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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Slightly quirky and rambling tale but v enjoyable
There's little doubt that Brian Kimberling's debut novel "Snapper" is a slightly unusual book. The publishers describe it as a coming of age story, and it is after a fashion, but it's more in the vein of an adult looking back on his young adult self than the more conventional young person grows up way of looking at things. The narrator, Nathan, shares many of the traits...
Published 19 months ago by Ripple

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Neither fish nor fowl
Snapper makes much of its link with birds. "Birdwatching's no line of work for a man" says the cover, slotted in between lots of line drawings of birds. So the reader expects thrills and spills aplenty featuring an ornothologist.

In fact, Snapper is a novel without a terribly clear focus. Sure, for parts of the novel, it's star, Nathan Lochmuellee, is a field...
Published 14 months ago by MisterHobgoblin


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Slightly quirky and rambling tale but v enjoyable, 19 April 2013
By 
Ripple (uk) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Snapper (Paperback)
There's little doubt that Brian Kimberling's debut novel "Snapper" is a slightly unusual book. The publishers describe it as a coming of age story, and it is after a fashion, but it's more in the vein of an adult looking back on his young adult self than the more conventional young person grows up way of looking at things. The narrator, Nathan, shares many of the traits of his creator. Like Kimberling, he is brought up in Indiana and is involved in research of songbirds in that state; effectively a paid bird watcher. The title of the book though comes not from any type of bird, but from the snapping turtle that lives in the state. It's a broadly affectionate and wry look at the people of Indiana, known as "Hoosiers".

There is a hint of Bill Bryson in his early travel books and also a suggestion of Garrison Keillor's "Lake Woebegon Days" in some Kimberling's narrative. If you can imagine someone driving you through a place that they grew up but you never knew, and telling stories of what happened in their younger days in those places, you get a reasonable impression of what Kimberling does here. Some may find his tendency to go off at a bit of a tangential ramble at times a little frustrating, but I rather enjoyed this relaxed journey.

The running theme throughout most of the book is his obsession with Lola, a beautiful, but unfaithful redhead although the "affair" with Indiana is perhaps the one that comes over most evidently. At times he gently sends up the so-called "white trash" residents particularly when contrasted with the academic community in the university towns. But by and large most people are kind hearted, including prison inmates and the truckers who stop by the diner in Santa Claus, Indiana, to help the owner reply to the letters sent by children to Father Christmas.

The book follows a rough chronological development, but Nathan often goes off on brief asides. Each chapter relates some particular incident in Nathan's life. Despite his job, you certainly don't need an ornithological interest to enjoy this book by any means. It is more about the people with whom he grew up and, to a slightly lesser extent the environment in the form of the nature of the state, with which the narrator has a love/hate relationship throughout. There's plenty of dry wit and humour to enjoy and it's a book with a big heart. In many ways it reads a little like a collection of related short stories in that it is episodic in nature. If you want a deeply plotted story, this probably isn't for you.

In many ways, Nathan's relationship with Indiana is as doomed as his relationship with Lola appears to be. Indiana is depicted as a Mid West State with the soul of the deep south. There are Klansmen and racism as well as dilapidated trucks and drugs. It is an unconventional book, but warm hearted and often very incisive. You get a strong sense of an area as well as people that are striving for an identity. It will be interesting to see what Kimberling comes up with next as there is a strong sense that this contains a fairly strong element of autobiographical content - and if it doesn't then that just shows how evocative of the place his writing is.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Charming debut, 6 May 2013
This review is from: Snapper (Hardcover)
I was very excited to receive a proof copy of this book from Waterstones, mainly because I'd fallen in love with the cover(!). I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, but Brian Kimberling's debut novel was a pleasant surprise.

Snapper is based on the author's own experiences of working as a bird researcher in rural Indiana, and at times feels more like a memoir than a novel; there is no overarching plot line to speak of, and each chapter opens on a seemingly random anecdote taken from this period in protagonist Nathan Lochmueller's life. They are neat little segments of Indiana life, at turns witty, warm and surprising, and for all his pointing out of his hometown's flaws, there is an underlying bewitching charm that gets to work on the reader. Kimberling is skilled at deftly sketching the friends, family and Indiana locals that pop up in the course of the narrative. Nathan himself an endearing character - a slightly hapless overgrown student, hopelessly in love with the free-spirited Lola and owner of a beaten up and ailing van, the Gypsy Moth, tastefully painted with butterflies and naked mermaids. There is plenty of local trivia interspersed with childhood memories and awkward episodes, so it never feels dry. It is also a paean to Indiana's wildlife, as Nathan's job is to record the dwindling numbers of birds, and this adds to the tinge of nostalgia.

Kimberling's writing is warm, wry and wise, making Snapper a thoroughly absorbing and delightful read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Twitcher or Snapper?, 13 Oct 2013
This review is from: Snapper (Paperback)
You wouldn't think that a book about a bird watcher in an obscure redneck part of the USA would be so enjoyable - but it is! The book is unusual in that it combines elements of life writing (the author was also a bird watcher in Indiana), short stories (each chapter is quite self contained) and a novel - but it seems to work, primarily because Nathan Lochmueller is both believable and vulnerable, with his infatuations with Lola and US songbirds nestings sites.

The plot moves along nicely throughout the book and there are some excellent vignettes of Southern Indiana life - eg the truck stop at Christmas, the KKK meetings with Nathan's uncle, the encounters with hunters whilst on bird duty.

There is a strong sense of place and the feeling of both belonging and dissatisfaction with your home comes out well.

I met Brian Kimberling at Charleston Small Wonder festival and bought the book because I liked his sense of humour.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Its not about birdwatching!, 26 Aug 2013
By 
Stewart M (Victoria, Australia) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Snapper (Paperback)
When I finished reading this book I was slightly confused. I was still trying to pin down that idea or theme that centers the book.

Now the one thing I can be sure of is that, despite the "bird watching" in the title, this is not a book about bird watching. Some bird watching does occur - but it is not a book about birds.

I think - and I'm going out on limb here - that this is a book about transitions, from one job to another, from one relationship to another and from one place to another.

Both a girl and a place are recurring themes in this book as its central character - Nathan - moves through life. They both seem to be "centers" around which he builds his life, but away from which he is slowly moving.

This is an comfortable, interesting read, but I would like to have it explained to me why somebody thought it was a good idea to sub-title the book "Birdwatching's no line of work for a man".

Gently recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indiana, Bird Watching and Failed romance, 31 May 2013
By 
Tommy Dooley (London, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Snapper (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a debut novel from newcomer Brian Kimberling who was born and bred in rural Indiana. This book is about Nathan Lochmueller and revolves around his love/ hate relationship with his native state and his forlorn love for flibbertigibbet red head of his dreams - Lola. He spends a great time of the book detailing his feelings for her and how both the feelings and the people involved actually mature.

He is also a professional bird watcher for part of the novel until he becomes an operative at a raptor hospital. Along the way we get to meet his friends and foes as he travels life's long highway. There are characters aplenty who are all treated with care and consideration even when they are giving Nathan a hard time. Whilst this is a gentle tale there are also moments of pure humour and wry observations all wrapped up in a lilting writing style that just seems to stroll along in a most agreeable way.

This is one of those reads that just seem effortless, and at one time I was thinking, that not a lot was happening, but it is that it just is told in such an accessible style. Brian Kimberling has written what appears to be an autobiographical story in a very surprising debut that I really enjoyed and I think he will find he definitely has a hit on his hands.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Watching birds in Indiana, 20 Oct 2013
By 
Eleanor (Oxford, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Snapper (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Nathan Lochmueller spends his days tracking songbirds in Indiana, a place whose inhabitants he sees, in his darker hours, as 'a collection of turtle-shooting subliterates - people opposed to evolution, pluralism, and poetry'. "Snapper" is a largely plotless novel consisting of episodes in Nathan's life, episodes filled with eccentric characters, jaded humour, and mild despair. I found myself really enjoying Nathan's voice and wanting to see in what direction his life would next tend; together the chapters make up a fresh, funny, and intelligent novel.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Snapper by Brian Kimberling, 20 Jun 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Snapper (Kindle Edition)
I didn't like the style of writing of this book, which I read as a member of a reading group. Other members of the group enjoyed it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Witty and Well-written, 17 April 2014
By 
G. J. Oxley "Gaz" (Tyne & Wear, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Snapper (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A snapper can be either a type of Caribbean fish, Irish slang for a baby or, as in this instance, a nickname for photographers.

Set in Indiana, in essence, this book takes a look at birdwatcher Nathan Loch and his unsuccesful love affair, among other themes.

Witty and entertaining, this is a short, perfectly paced funny novel that manages to make a few interesting points about the human condition. Extremely enjoyable - and recommended.
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2.0 out of 5 stars A little contrived, not very interesting, 20 Jan 2014
By 
Stealth Reviewer (Birmingham, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Snapper (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I really wanted to like this book - the description of the state as the "bastard son of the Midwest" on the blurb made me smile and I thought it would be engaging and fast-paced as well as humorous.

I really did try, but I just found it dull. There's no compelling story, I found I really didn't care much about the characters and what happened to them, and the humour was a lot more forced and contrived than I expected it to be.

I read as far as I could, but I just kept getting bored and I couldn't finish it, which is rare for me.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An everyman's tale of Indianan life, 8 Nov 2013
By 
J. Morris "Josh" (London) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Snapper (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Snapper is the life story of Nate, a simple boy from Indiana, as he recounts his childhood, growing up playing around in 'stripper' pits (not what you think...) he reflects on his friends, life and employment. Nate counts wild birds for the various environmental agencies in all weather, including tornadoes... Whilst the book might not sound like much, it is written excellently by Brian Kimberling in a style that is really direct but equally charming in a simplistic way. Nate's astute observation about his minimum wage lifestyle, his beat-up pick-up and his run around girlfriend Lola are sure to make anyone smile whilst reading this. Recommended!
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