Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler has been getting buzz because of one of its main character's similarity to Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, an Eau Claire, WI musician who went on to become famous with his album For Emma, Forever Ago and win a Grammy. The album was apparently composed after Vernon sequestered himself in a Wisconsin farmhouse one winter. And so it is that Lee, the musician in the novel, composed his breakthrough album, Shotgun Lovesongs. It made his name and granted him international fame, but he still wants to return to and hide out in Little Wing, the small WI town near Eau Claire where he grew up. In Little Wing are his friends Hank, who runs a private dairy farm with his wife Beth; Ronny, who left town for the rodeo circuit, but returned with brain damage; and Kip, who moved to Chicago and made a killing in the markets, but feels drawn back to his home town.
The book is told from the point of view of five people, all first person. That's kind of a lot, especially in first person, and eventually they all start to sound the same. I think third person would have been a better approach, and honestly, I'm not sure we needed to see all five.
Butler can write, and paints the Wisconsin scenery with vivid beauty. But he falls down in some of the plotting. There are some very predictable scenes, and others that involve plot points that don't seem to really have anything to do with the overall story, with one occurring at the end that really strains credulity. He also uses a very tired plot point involving two of the men and a woman they both love. Been there, done that. The story of these four men who were childhood friends could have been compelling enough without that. There's even a stripper with a heart of gold.
So, overall I'm meh on this one, but it is Butler's first novel, and there's enough potential that I'll watch for his next book.