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BIG REVIEWS: Nickolas Butler’s The Hearts of Men

Chippewa Valley novelist Nickolas Butler’s new book, The Hearts of Men, has been racking up fantastic reviews over the last week – since he released it right here in the Volume One Gallery at a packed reading. Butler’s first novel, Shotgun Lovesongs was a New York Times bestseller. See what people are saying about his latest ...

➜ Buy The Hearts of Men


The Hearts of Men has much to say about goodness and its opposite; about honor; and about manhood, its difficulties and precise texture. How it equivocates, how it can protect or maim. It’s not news that we’re shaped by events. But the dealt cards make for only half the game; the other half is how we play them. We are bullied, our father abandons us, our spouse up and dies. Do we give up, fall to bitterness, become stronger? That determines who we’ll be. Do we do good or do we do bad? Moral choice is the spur that sends this novel on its forward gallop. But, in a neat and difficult trick for an author to pull off, the characters’ ethical decisions are as thrilling as adventures of the flesh. – Darin Strauss, The New York Times


“Butler achieves a rare triple play here of brilliant characterizations, a riveting story line, and superlatively measured prose, putting him in the front ranks of contemporary American writers of literary fiction.” – Booklist  


With its attention to Boy Scouts, baseball card-collecting and other “stuff not on the tip of people’s tongues right now in 2017,” Butler acknowledges the “measured sentimentality” found in The Hearts of Men. He recalls a quote from the late Michigan novelist Jim Harrison: “The novelist who refuses sentiment refuses the full spectrum of human behavior, and then he just dries up. I would rather give full vent to all human loves and disappointments, and take a chance on being corny, than die a smartass.” Likewise, Butler maintains, “You have to tackle love, you have to tackle disappointment, you have to tackle passion—all those things that create fiction with a pulse.” – Steve Nathans-Kelly, Paste Magazine

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