Nickolas Butler's debut 'Shotgun Lovesongs' impresses critics

Butler's novel, released earlier this month, has won over many critics, with both Amazon and IndieBound selecting it for their best-of-the-month lists.

'Shotgun Lovesongs' is by Nickolas Butler.

“Shotgun Lovesongs” is author Nickolas Butler’s debut novel, but it’s already making his name a familiar one to book industry watchers.

Butler released “Lovesongs,” which centers on a group of friends who grew up in a small Wisconsin town and who return there for a wedding, on March 11. The book was picked as one of Amazon’s ten best books of the month and took the number one spot on IndieBound’s Indie Next list. The novel also placed number 13 in the Hardcover Fiction list on the IndieBound bestseller list for March 27.

“This is a spectacular first novel, full of wit, energy, love, and a true feeling of home that other writers strive to achieve but few actually succeed in creating,” Bill Carl of Ohio’s The Booksellers wrote for the Indie Next list.

Meanwhile, Amazon editorial director Sara Nelson called “Lovesongs” “a beautiful portrait of small-town America… and all the ways that people cross paths."

New York Times critic Janet Maslin called the book “impressively original,” noting Butler’s “keen” instincts for how his characters would interact, though she said Butler occasionally indulged in “overwriting.”

“The most lyrical parts of this big-hearted book are about how all the characters, including the star, are almost physically drawn to the town and one another,” she wrote.

And Shelf Awareness reviewer Jaclyn Fulwood found “Lovesongs” to be an “elegant but down-to-earth debut.”

“Butler's story of five 30-somethings seeking to make sense of how their future relates to their beginnings may focus on small town living, but it will resonate with anyone who ever struggled to reconcile dreams with financial security, true love with real life, and unwelcome changes with changes that never seem to come,” she wrote. “Butler doesn't fall into the trap of romanticizing small town life, instead showing the difficulties that make rural living often more trying than rewarding.”

(Also check out a preview of the audiobook of the novel.)

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