You are here

Fiction at Literati: Nickolas Butler

Literati is pleased to welcome Nickolas Butler in support of his new novel, The Hearts of Men.

Here's Carla's review:

"The Boy Scouts at Wisconsin's summer Camp Chippewa practice their knot tying every morning at reveille. The knot that they don't practice is the one that will bind generations of Chippewa's scouts to each other through wars and family upheaval.The cruelty of bully campers, the surprising loyalty of lightly made friends, the feckless absent fathers, the lonely heroism of soldiers and their mothers--the patterns repeat, each family generation sharing some of the blame, some of the glory. You may anticipate the classic reckoning at the end among scoutmaster, scout, single mother, and sociopath  Like me, you may wonder off stage, if today's scouting, with the 130+ different merit badges that can be earned, is desperately seeking a relevancy it no longer deserves. Yet I was still completely won over by Butler's novel. The movie plays in my head. An original coming of age novel that deserves a place alongside of A Separate Peace."

The Hearts of Men is an epic novel of intertwining friendships and families set in the Northwoods of Wisconsin at a beloved Boy Scout summer camp--and a finalist for the 2016 Prix Médicis Etrangere--from the bestselling author of Shotgun Lovesongs.

Camp Chippewa, 1962. Nelson Doughty, age thirteen, social outcast and overachiever, is the Bugler, sounding the reveille proudly each morning. Yet this particular summer marks the beginning of an uncertain and tenuous friendship with a popular boy named Jonathan. Over the years, Nelson, irrevocably scarred from the Vietnam War, becomes Scoutmaster of Camp Chippewa, while Jonathan marries, divorces, and turns his father’s business into a highly profitable company. And when something unthinkable happens at a camp get-together with Nelson as Scoutmaster and Jonathan’s teenage grandson and daughter-in-law as campers, the aftermath demonstrates the depths—and the limits—of Nelson’s selflessness and bravery. The Hearts of Men is a sweeping, panoramic novel about the slippery definitions of good and evil, family and fidelity, the challenges and rewards of lifelong friendships, the bounds of morality—and redemption.

"Like a great campfire story, The Hearts of Men is epic and hushed in the right places, simultaneously local and universal, and brilliantly, beautifully unspooled. It s both a love letter to good men of the past and a hopeful cheer for the good men to come." --J. Ryan Stradal, author of Kitchens of the Great Midwest

Nickolas Butler was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, raised in Eau Claire, Wisconsin and educated at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop. He is the author of the internationally-best selling novel Shotgun Lovesongs, a collection of short stories entitled, Beneath the Bonfire, and The Hearts of Men which has already been longlisted for two of France's top literary awards. He is the winner of France's prestigious PAGE Prix America, the 2014 Great Lakes Great Reads Award, the 2014 Midwest Independent Booksellers Award, the 2015 Wisconsin Library Association Literary Award, the 2015 UW-Whitewater Chancellor's Regional Literary Award, and has been long-listed for the 2014 Flaherty Dunnan Award for First Novel and short-listed for France's FNAC Prix. Along the way, he has worked as: a Burger King maintenance man, a tutor, a telemarketer, a hot-dog vendor, an innkeeper (twice), an office manager, a coffee roaster, a liquor store clerk, and an author escort. His itinerant work includes: potato harvester, grape picker, and Christmas tree axe-man. His short stories, poetry, and non-fiction have appeared in: Ploughshares, The Kenyon Review Online, The Lumberyard, The Christian Science Monitor, Narrative, Sixth Finch, and several other publications.

Event date: 
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 - 7:00pm
Event address: 
Literati Bookstore
124 E. Washington St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Staff Pick Logo
The Hearts of Men Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9780062469687
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ecco Press - March 7th, 2017

Author Photo: