Monday, June 6, 2016

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach

Please join us for this months book and discussion!

Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler

SHOTGUN LOVE SONGS is the first novel for Wisconsin writer Nickolas Butler and our book club members all gave it high praise. Nine members met and discussed this book with themes of small town life, home, friendship and redemption. Our leader found insightful discussion questions through the Madison Public Library. She guided us as we dived into a deeper understanding of this novel. The first thing we did was read an interview of the author that our leader found. This was the background for our discussion.

Many people liked the characters, thought the book reminded them of their own small town experience, thought it was a male version of "chick lit," because it dealt with male friendships and one person thought it was a little sad. One member thought the ending left the story hanging. What happened to Lee?

There are some interesting points that make this a good read. The chapters are each narrated by the different characters with an initial designating their names. This gives the readers a window into each one's point of view as well as their inner thoughts. Also, Lee is based on Justin Vernon, a Wisconsin musician who made it big in the music industry yet returned home to Eau Clare to live and help that community. Though Little Wing is a fictional town, readers know that the setting is just outside of Eau Clare.

During the discussion several points were made. We thought that Beth and Lee would never have become a successful couple. Beth and Hank are right for each other and are a successful couple. When Lee dropped the bomb about his past with Beth, a life long friendship was torn apart. Yet Lee ended up being punished more than the others. The redemption for this mistake was a humorous bar scene. Kip, Ronny and Lee all return home while still young men. The draw of life long friends and of being home are huge in this story. A comment was made that even though Lee was a huge musical success, he craved being with people who had history with him and cared for him all his life. Ronny was much the same. He came back wounded and his friends, especially Hank, protected him and helped him regain his life. One member commented that it seemed inconsistent with the characters for them to abandon Ronny during the snowstorm. Others blamed alcohol on a change of behavior. Kip also returned after being a successful commodities broker in Chicago, buying and transforming the old mill.

One of the members is familiar with the Iowa Writer's Workshop. We learned that Nickolas Butler spent two years there and that is the place he wrote this book. He was homesick for his family and town. Reflections of that emotion were evident in his work.