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Nickolas Butler Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Shotgun Lovesongs (2014) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Hearts of Men (2017) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Short Stories / Novellas

In Western Counties (2014) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Nickolas Butler is an American author born in Allentown, Pennsylvania. His family moved to Eau Claire, Wisconsin when he was four, and that is where he spent most of his childhood. After completing his high school studies, he went to Chicago’s DePaul University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and later the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop. He is best known for his bestselling novel Shotgun Lovesongs, and two collections of short stories entitled The Hearts of Men, and Beneath the Bonfire. So popular was the first novel, Shotgun Lovesongs that in 2013, Fox Searchlight Pictures announced that it had bought the rights to adapt the novel into a movie. Besides his novels becoming international best sellers he has also won a variety of prestigious awards such as the Midwest Independent Booksellers Award in 2015, and the PAGE Prix America award in 2014 among others. His nonfiction, poetry, and short stories have been featured in Sixth Finch, Narrative, The Christian Science Monitor, The Lumberyard, The Kenyon Review Online, and Ploughshares among others. Before becoming a professional writer, Nickolas Butler worked many odd jobs that included Christmas tree axe man, grape picker, potato harvester, author escort, liquor store clerk, coffee roaster, office manager, innkeeper , tutor, burger king maintenance man among others. Most of his life has been spent in the American Midwest where most of his family and that of his wife lives. He lives on a sixteen-acre piece of land in Wisconsin with his wife and two children.

Reading and writing have always been something that Nickolas Butler has done ever since he was thirteen. Whether it be the writing of movie reviews in his teenage years, poetry in his twenties, to fiction novels in his adult life, he has never stopped writing. However, he made a commitment to go professional and become one of the best writers that he could be, when he was in his late twenties. Married and with a child on the way, he could no longer depend on odd jobs and his semiprofessional writing career. He was soon accepted into the Iowa Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa. He used to commute to Iowa City from Arden Hills, Minnesota, to attend the graduate school. It was one of the most life changing events in his professional career, as he studied with and some of the most prominent of authors such as Sam Chang, James Galvin, Ethan Canin, James Allan McPherson, and Marilyn Robinson. During his first semester, he worked under James Allan McPherson and being the prolific writer that he was, he submitted a story about every three weeks. He wrote the first 35 pages of his first novel Shotgun Lovesongs in a day, to an overwhelmingly positive response from his workshop instructor and tutor. Homesick and wishing for some literary break, he moved back to Eau Claire with his wife and children to be close to his friends and family.

Nickolas Butlers Novels are a very skillful mix of all the essentials you would expect for a North Midwestern novel. The characters are genuine and loyal people who have to weather their own weaknesses the same way they do their dreary winters. The novels are told from the perspective of several characters that have been childhood friends who return home. According to the author, the novels were conceived from emotions such as loneliness and homesickness. The novels are about getting back to one’s own hometown, and reflecting on childhood experiences and events. The novels are about the exploration of how childhood friends change as they grow into adulthood and yet still remain eerily the same. Using the author’s experiences, the novels are a poetic and poignant reflection on growing up and accepting what life gives you – owning both the good and the bad, and surviving the messy part of life that comes to everyone. Just like Butler some of the lead characters have built successful lives and experienced a lot of challenges in attaining their goals. Some have done better or worse than their peers have, but remain proud of their heritage, the undying friendships. Their successes or lack of it is due to making important decisions that have led them down the path they currently are on. For the author, the experience of owning his own life at 28 and deciding to become an author is replicated when the friends meet to take stock of their achievements back home, just as Nickolas did a few years back.

In Shotgun Lovesongs, the first novel by Nickolas Butler, Ronny, Kip, Leland, and Hank have just reunited their small Wisconsin town where they were born and brought up. One of them has never left town and has taken over his family’s land, which he has been farming as his ancestors had done for generations. His peers that left town found success or failure to varying degrees. One is a rodeo stud, another a commodities trader, while another is a rock star. And then there is Beth, a woman whose presence had always inspired rivalry and love songs just as it did today. Now they have been reunited back at home hoping to find meaning for all each of them has achieved. What they conjure up is a shared memory that they can only recreate in bits and parts. The unified tribe they try to remember seems to have been erased by culture clashes between them. The story of conflict between wives and husbands and longtime buddies makes for some heartbreaking and even gut wrenching scenes that seeks to answer the old age question of whether one can ever truly come back home.

Beneath the Bonfire: Stories is a collection of short stories by Nickolas Butler. In one story, young couples get together to take part in the annual “Chainsaw Party” – an event meant to lighten the task of collecting logs for winter heating. In another, a few of the men go to hunt for mushrooms in the wilderness and find they still have the tendency to get trapped just as if they were children again. One woman makes a deal with another to help her exact revenge on a man that has wronged her and the whole community. In yet another a cranky environmentalist decides to mete out his anger on an unsuspecting victim. The collections of short stories are surprising yet dazzling narratives that portray the essence of the blue highways and back roads of the United States. Nonetheless, they have some of the most memorable characters that you would expect to find in America.

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