Camp Chippewa, 1962. Thirteen-year-old Nelson, loner and over-achiever, is nicknamed the Bugler as he proudly sounds the reveille each morning. This is the summer that everything changes, marking the beginning of Nelson's uncertain friendship with a popular boy named Jonathan, and the discovery of his father's betrayal, which tears his family apart.As time moves on, Nelson, irrevocably scarred from the Vietnam War, becomes Scoutmaster of Camp Chippewa, while Jonathan marries, divorces, and transforms his father's business. When something unthinkable happens during a visit from Jonathan's grandson and daughter-in-law, the aftermath tests the depths - and the limits - of Nelson's selflessness and bravery.Nickolas Butler's The Hearts of Men is a powerful, wise and deeply affecting novel about the slippery definitions of right and wrong, family and fidelity, and the redemptive power of friendship.
From the bestselling author of Shotgun Lovesongs, an unforgettable novel about fathers and sons, the tough lessons of adulthood, and what it means to be a good man, set over five decades in a changing America
Newly minted Midwestern laureate Nickolas Butler delivers on the big-hearted promise of his bestseller Shotgun Lovesongs with The Hearts of Men . . . this novel's examination of a fracturing relationship between a flailing father and overarchieving young son is superbly judged and Butler's prose remains a joy to read, even when his material is tough * GQ * The Hearts of Men is a wry, tender-hearted novel about men: their families and friendships, their vulnerabilities and foibles, their secrets and lies. Part coming-of-age narrative, part meditation on masculinity, part war story, this novel had me spellbound all the way to its riveting conclusion' -- Christina Baker Kline, New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train and Sweet Water The Hearts of Men is a winning second novel, by turns wistful and wise, sad and funny, eminently readable, and always atmospheric. Without a doubt, Nickolas Butler is a young writer to watch -- Jonathan Evison, author of West of Here and The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving A marvel of storytelling. This unforgettable novel goes straight to the heart of what it means to be a man and live a life guided by the true north of a moral compass. The Hearts of Men is full of pain, joy, longing, redemption, disappointment, and beauty -- in short, all the qualities that distinguish the very best novels on our shelves -- David Abrams, author of Fobbit 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 [A] gut-punch of a novel . . . as grimly thrilling as anything in LORD OF THE FLIES, and also more intimate. Butler reveals exceptional sympathy for his bullied hero . . . He is a character of such vivid goodness, such moving and precise sorrow, I don't think I'll ever forget him. And in the end isn't that what we ask of a novel, that it be unforgettable? * New York Times * Tender, insightful . . . Perfectly paced and leavened with humour, it's a wonderful read * People * Across three generations and as many wars, this earnest novel explores the ways boys become men and how even flawed men may stand as models for the young... A well-paced, affecting read. * Kirkus * '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 *
Nickolas Butler was born in Pennsylvania and raised in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. His award-winning debut novel, Shotgun Lovesongs, was an international bestseller and has been optioned for film by Fox Searchlight Pictures. Butler graduated from the University of Wisconsin before attending the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and currently lives in Wisconsin with his wife and their two children.