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Snapperby Brian Kimberling
Synopses & Reviews
A great, hilarious new voice in fiction: the poignant, all-too-human recollections of an affable bird researcher in the Indiana backwater as he goes through a disastrous yet heartening love affair with the place and its people.
Nathan Lochmueller studies birds, earning just enough money to live on. He drives a glitter-festooned truck, the Gypsy Moth, and he is in love with Lola, a woman so free-spirited and mysterious she can break a man’s heart with a sigh or a shrug. Around them swirls a remarkable cast of characters: the proprietor of Fast Eddie’s Burgers & Beer, the genius behind “Thong Thursdays”; Uncle Dart, a Texan who brings his swagger to Indiana with profound and nearly devastating results; a snapping turtle with a taste for thumbs; a German shepherd who howls backup vocals; and the very charismatic state of Indiana itself. And at the center of it all is Nathan, creeping through the forest to observe the birds he loves and coming to terms with the accidental turns his life has taken.
"Kimberling, formerly a professional birdwatcher, grew up in southern Indiana, the setting of his catchy, well-written debut novel. Nathan Lochmueller, a recent philosophy graduate, takes a low-paying job as a songbird researcher at his alma mater, Indiana University, during the mid-1990s. He spends all his time tramping through the forest, where he gives songbirds pet names and encounters eccentrics like a Vietnam veteran scrounging for morel mushrooms. When he's not bird-watching, Nathan maintains a puzzling 'complicated' friendship with the 'lovely' Lola who refuses to marry him until it's too late. The immature, often humorous Nathan and his equally clueless best friend Shane try smoking dried banana peels, and drunken Nathan gets arrested for destroying parking meters with a different friend. His uncouth brother, Darren, also a college graduate, is assaulted by his knife-wielding coke fiend roommate and recuperates at Nathan's digs. They quarrel over Darren's dope dealing; he attacks Nathan; and the resulting ear damage ends Nathan's songbird researcher career. Nathan, past 30 and still aimless, pins his hopes on a lead to work at a Vermont raptor hospital, but his love-hate relationship with Indiana makes it difficult to move away in Kimberling's accomplished, ironic Midwest coming-of-age tale. Agent: Will Francis, Janklow & Nesbit." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“In those awkward, drifting, post-college years, when many young men find themselves working behind a counter, Nathan Lochmueller learns he has a gift for tracking songbirds....Told with precise and memorable prose in beautifully rendered, time-shifted vignettes, Snapper richly evokes the emotions of coming to adulthood. Nathan’s fascination with the physical world and with living an authentic and meaningful life, his disdain for jingoistic environmentalism, and his struggle to find balance between the cloistered liberalism of college towns and the conservatism of small towns are thoughtfully explored. All this and it’s funny, too....Kimberling writes gracefully about absurdity, showing a rich feeling for the whole range of human tragicomedy. A delightful debut.” Booklist, starred review
“Brian Kimberling’s debut novel, Snapper, captures the high lonesome beauty of a songbird’s canorous call. Nathan Lochmueller, an amateur ornithologist and future falconer, adventures through the Indiana wilds heartsick with Yeatsian love but full of good humor and stumbling grace. As Nathan searches for starlings, he teaches us all to care more deeply about the wonders and dangers of the natural world. Snapper is a brilliant field study, a soulful guide to the humble glories and enduring legacies of the Great Midwest. Brian Kimberling is a writer of serious wit and wisdom.” Amber Dermont, author of The Starboard Sea and Damage Control
“Brian Kimberling is an amazingly talented and wise writer. Snapper is filled with sly humor and uncommon grace and some of the most memorable characters to appear in fiction in recent years.” Donald Ray Pollock, author of The Devil All the Time
“Mr. Kimberling grew up in the Hoosier state, and the book captures the place with wry humor, affection for its woodlands and exasperation with its provincialism.” The New York Times
“Excellent debut novel...a delightful, wry story of a young ornithologist romping around the Indiana backcountry in a glitter-encrusted truck called the Gypsy Moth. There’s no doubting Kimberling’s own expertise in (or obsession with) birding after reading either the book.” Flavorwire
“Brian Kimberling’s Snapper is a phenomenal book, quietly profound and as entertaining as any book I’ve read in the past five years....Kimberling articulates, better than anyone I’ve read, the sorrow that arises from trying to find the magic of one’s youth with the original ingredients.” Minneapolis Star Tribune
“[A] hilarious debut novel.” O, the Oprah Magazine: 10 Titles to Pick Up Now
“Brian Kimberling's debut novel, Snapper, is a lovely, loose-limbed collection of stories about an aimless ornithologist.” NPR.org, First Reads
About the Author
Brian Kimberling grew up in southern Indiana and spent two years working as a professional birdwatcher before living in the Czech Republic, Turkey, Mexico, and now England. He received an MA in creative writing from Bath Spa University in 2010.
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