Lately I have been on more of a local kick. This mentality has applied to the produce/meat/specialty foods I buy at the grocery store when possible and apparently to the fiction books I picked up to read.
Two options I enjoyed in 2014:
Vintage by Susan Gloss
Written by a Madison native who smartly utilized our city as a backdrop, the plot centers around a cast of women at very different crossroads in their lives. The voices and perspectives rendered through these individuals and their interactions and overlaps delivers a collective message embracing the pursuit of new directions and the tackling of difficult decisions in a variety of ways. Every chapter starts with an item or article of clothing which story lends insightful depth to the novel and character development of each female player. Perhaps my favorite aspect of this debut novel is the large number of details that catapult Madison the city into an almost character itself. A great read for a book club or lazy afternoon.
Susan ‘ s blog: http://susangloss.com/news-events-2
Shotgun Lovesongs by Nicholas Butler
I will admit I was attracted to this book based on the cover and the Knox Mason jar on the mural. This received a large amount of press here because the book is strongly compelling, a great novel and primarily set in Little Wing, WI. The story centers around a set of four male childhood friends (a rockstar, a farmer, a rodeo rider and a financial guru) who have remained connected to each other emotionally despite their different directions and yet in most instances choose strikingly independent paths in their navigation of life’s hurdles. The group has assembled to celebrate a marriage of one of it’s own, as currently all men are either husbands or fathers or on the brink of this milestone. A backdrop to this epic friendship, Little Wing, has dramatically changed over time, and plans are set in motion by Kip, a financial success recently returned from a stint in Chicago, to bring progress to the population that has remained. However, the revitalization of the Old Feed Mill that used to be Little Wing’s hub of activity encouters numerous challenges that intersect these characters on both a personal level and logistical level, and ultimately lead to a rift to overcome or risk permanently tearing the fabric of the nostalgic friendship the book centers on. Each of the four men is a dynamic character – from Lee Sutton, the musician that essentially titles the book to salt-of-the-earth Hank who never left his birthplace and in many instances is the most grounded of the lot. I enjoyed the perspective each friend brings to the tale; as well as Hank’s wife Beth’s side of the story as the sole woman who is as interconnected as the men folk to both the past and future of this narrative. A solid read.