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2391899,270 (3.56)20
Working as a birdwatching guide to scrape together enough money to survive, Nathan Lochmueller performs nature research in backwater Indiana, where he falls in love with a heartbreaking free spirit named Lola and confronts the accidental turns of his life.
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Rather than a linear story, Snapper by Brian Kimberling is a delightful assortment of the main character’s thoughts, opinions and reminiscences. These entertaining tidbits range from the Ku Klux Klan to smoking banana peels, his one night in jail to the girlfriend that strays all too often. Nathan Lochmueller earns his money by doing field studies of birds in Southern Indiana. He is marking time until he decides what he is going to do with his life, but he is approaching his late 20’s and needs to make some decisions.

Clever, insightful and funny, I really enjoyed Snapper with it’s assortment of unusual characters, the humorous situations and, above all, the author’s wonderful writing. Whether he is writing about the lush woodlands and the songbirds that inhabit them, or his odd-ball acquaintances and the strange things that they do, the words paint a vivid picture.

Although at times the book appears a little choppy and the main character a little too self-involved, I found the author’s love/hate relationship with the state of Indiana along with his wry sense of humor made this book of observations a fun one. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Aug 25, 2022 |
SNAPPER (2013) was Brian Kimberling's first novel, and it's a darn good one. Found a copy at an AAUW book sale shortly after I'd read his second novel, new this year, GOULASH - also a great read. Of course, I "snapped" it up.

SNAPPER is a drawn-out coming of age story, told by Nathan Lochmueller, growing up in Evansville, Indiana, with a close group of friends. Time gets spent skipping stones at "stripper pits," smoking banana peel, rooming with a dope dealer, smashing parking meters and going to jail, talking of books and poetry, and a LOT of beer consumption, among other things. This laid back growing up tale continues through college at IU in Bloomington and for years beyond when Nathan works as an ornithology field researcher, crawling about in the mud and climbing trees to observe habits of rare songbirds. The story gets told in a baker's dozen of short vignette-chapters, going from his middle class childhood well into his thirties, when - I think - Nathan finally achieves a hard-won sort of maturity, marries and has a son.

There is also a years-long love affair with brainy but flighty Lola, and a "deafening" injury which ends his birdman days, although, after a long period of healing and unemployment, Nathan finds work out of state at a "hawk hospital."

If all of this sounds weird, well it is, but it's also hilariously funny and profoundly moving at times, as well as a love-hate story of the narrator's feelings for Indiana. I am quite sure too that the term "autobiographical fiction" is apt here.

Kimberling is an extremely talented young writer whose career I will watch with great interest. I enjoyed the neck outa this book. Oh, and if you're wondering about the title, it's from a chapter where a large snapping turtle "de-thumbs" Nathan's best friend.

Where was I? Oh yeah, my highest recommendation. Bravo, Brian. Keep writing.

- Tim Bazzett, author of the memoir, BOOKLOVER ( )
  TimBazzett | Jun 3, 2019 |
Snapper features thirteen chapters that are loosely constructed Midwestern vignette's. They chronicle Nathan Lochmueller's life from high school and college and ending in his thirties.

Nathan has a philosophy degree and works as a songbird field researcher. There is sly humor and word play use throughout this book...written in the first person.

You get to learn a little bit about Indiana. There are the things that irritate. But, there are also things that bring a smile. Like in Santa Claus Indiana. Where they do really answer letter's from Santa. (Santa’s Elves Inc. and the Santa Claus Museum, organize volunteers to answer all the children’s letters that flood the post office during the holidays.)

The characters you meet through Nathan are all memorable, and a little unconventional. And, if you ask any midwesterner about the mean streak of a snapping turtle, they'll tell why they are called a..SNAPPER. ( )
  LorisBook | Aug 6, 2017 |
Brian Kimberling's debut novel, Snapper, features thirteen chapters that are really loosely connected stories chronicling Nathan Lochmueller's maturation into adulthood. Nathan grew up in southern Indiana (as did author Kimberling). After graduating with a philosophy degree, he accepts a job as a songbird field researcher. Nathan spends his time hiking through the woods locating songbirds, their nests, and tracking them. During this time period Nathan falls in love with Lola.

Nathan has a love/hate relationship with Indiana. Even as he shares the foibles of its people, he has a devotion to them, especially Evansville. But this novel is not simply about an amateur ornithologist stumbling through life. It's so much more and tackles Nathan's maturation with a great deal of wry humor and thoughtful insight. While relating the blunders and shortcomings of those around him he calmly accepts the absurdities as a part of life. Most of the stories are college/post college but some go back to high school. They end with Nathan in his thirties.

The characters Kimberling has assembled in Nathan's stories are unforgettable. There is Lola who Nathan worships even while she's unfaithful; Gerald, his socially awkward boss who owns a sofa and bird guides; his friend, Shane, with whom he has several interesting experiences before Shane becomes a librarian; his Texan uncle Dart who has a clash with the clan; Fast Eddie who in the future will promote "Thong Thursdays" at his business; Ernie and Maude of Santa Claus, Indiana; and Darren, the man who ended his career as a songbird field researcher.

I really enjoyed the writing in Snapper - the word play and the descriptions were wonderful. Kimberling manages to be funny and subtle while making a poignant observation. For example: "A real ornithologist spends his life in a database: I was the underpaid field hand who collected the information in that database. I was like a voracious reader unwilling to taint or corrupt his passion by submitting to years of studying postcolonialism or feminist theory. "(pg. 140) (Touché Brian - you just described my passion for book blogging.)

As Kimberling captures the haphazard, accidental path Nathan's life takes it reminds me that many of us have taken a rather accidental road to get where we are years later. And the results are not always a bad thing, despite how it may look from the outside.
Oh, and the cover of this book is gorgeous. It features reproductions of John James Audubon images.

Very Highly Recommended

Disclosure: I was given a copy of this book by Pantheon Books/Random House for review purposes. ( )
  SheTreadsSoftly | Mar 21, 2016 |
In an amusing novel, loosely based on personal history, Kimberling has given us a highly entertaining look at life in the heartland, rural Indiana. Taking us in a variety of flash-backs through his relationships with friends in high school, through the early years of college, we find out all about the mysterious Lola, the alligator snapping turtle, from which the title was so aptly pulled, to commiserating with him on his relatives - we all have an uncle or grand-father that tells unbelievable stories - and the job choices we make in life. In this case Nathan, our protagonist, works for the university plotting the movements in birds, all different variety of birds, in various parts of the woods of Southern Indiana.
Told with humor and wit Kimberling injects himself on the unsuspecting public in a similar vein that Bill Bryson did with his Walk In The Woods. A smartly written debut with lots of expectation for the future. ( )
  MarkPSadler | Jan 17, 2016 |
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Working as a birdwatching guide to scrape together enough money to survive, Nathan Lochmueller performs nature research in backwater Indiana, where he falls in love with a heartbreaking free spirit named Lola and confronts the accidental turns of his life.

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