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3.23  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,669 Ratings  ·  391 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
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published April 23rd 2013 by Pantheon (first published January 1st 2013)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Apr 22, 2013 Leo rated it it was ok
If only you could judge a book by its cover. This is a beautiful looking book and some of the writing is really excellent but I found the whole very disappointing. It is as if a loose collection of creative writing project scraps have been lazily chucked into a lovely cover and called a book. Promisingly sketched characters begin to appear then drop out of sight without leaving a ripple. Coming of age scenes are plucked from a best-of collection that seems to stagger around era and genre like a ...more
Jan 30, 2013 Sofia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: n-america, literary
Let me get this out of the way: I know nothing about birds and am primarily concerned with them as a decorative motiv. I also know nothing about Indiana, other than where it roughly falls on the map (hoping my non-US passport can provide a partial excuse for my ignorance). Well, let me rephrase that: now that I have read this book, I do know something about birds and Indiana, in fact, a lot more that I have ever expected to know. What I'm trying to say is, I picked up this book because of a very ...more
Apr 27, 2013 Lauren rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, 2013
I'm not sure that this book ever had a plot... the narrator (and the author, I suppose, by proxy) was self-involved and each chapter seemed more like a vignette than part of the engine moving this book forward. There's no crime in chapters as vignettes, but the summary on the back makes it seem like there will be more than a snapshot of various time points in the narrator's life - moving back and forward in time. I was a little bored for most of the book and I still can't tell if the author love ...more
Apr 29, 2013 Alyne rated it liked it
I expected a lot, largely because the first page was really intriguing and I liked the authors voice. Unfortunately, as the tale went along, I wasn't really pulled into it. I guess lately I've been spoiled by more compelling works like A Handmaids Tale and Bel Canto which have more meaning (from my estimation) and so this book was just a little on the light for me. The plot wasn't compelling, and his relationship with Lola seemed stupid and made me think a lot less of the protagonist. A lot of ...more
Lori L (She Treads Softly)
May 21, 2013 Lori L (She Treads Softly) rated it it was amazing
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/ha
Kasa Cotugno
May 16, 2013 Kasa Cotugno rated it really liked it
Brian Kimberling calls on his experience as a professional birdwatcher to create the framework for his inventive first novel. To be honest, I'd never heard of birdwatching as a profession, but as Nathan, the central character shows, there is more to it than meets the eye. He starts out doing it as a student, but his observation of migratory songbirds and collection of information using triangulation techniques to calibrate the height of bald eagles' nests is fed into a data bank that fills guide ...more
Apr 26, 2016 Lukie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, americana
People say this is a book about bird watching but aside from some interesting bits about birds, it's mostly about a young man's experiences living amidst the odd combination of unsophisticated Hoosiers and college types that define his Evansville, Indiana, home. Early adventures in the woods cement his love of nature and lead to his job as ornithology research assistant, that has him sitting in blinds in trees for hours on end. But the book is hardly a document of arboreal daydreaming. Motley fr ...more
Jun 30, 2013 Jenny rated it it was ok
Shelves: novels, audiobook
Big disappointment. I guess I was expecting something along the lines of the movie "The Big Year" - more about birding. The lead character is a bird researcher in Indiana for only the first part of the book, but it meanders aimlessly into disjointed incidents in his life and goes no where. He is also very insulting to Indiana, a state I am quite fond of. And what a strange ending - you think he is going to wrap things up with some feel-good nostalgia, but instead it just stops. Kimberling is not ...more
Jul 22, 2013 Mary rated it liked it
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
Feb 09, 2013 Doreen rated it really liked it
Shelves: elle
[Placeholder till I get back from the spa.]

When I read the title and description, I thought to myself, "No way was this inspired by anything but Howard Norman's The Bird Artist." There are similarities -- the fixation on birds, the elusive redheaded love interest, the near-indifference to practical matters -- but also enough differences to make this book feel certainly inspired by, but never an imitation of Mr Norman's work. The greatest difference, obviously, is in the vast amount of love dealt
Nathan Lochmueller is a birdwatcher; it is not every day you can build a career around doing something you love. Snapper charts the love affair that Nathan has with bird watching and the seamlessly unobtainable Lola. This is a coming of age, and quite possibly a semi-autobiographical, novel set in rural Indiana, ‘the bastard son of the Midwest’.

This is a bookclub book so it will be a little tricky reviewing this without some of the others’ insights being mixed in with mine. Normally I write a re
May 15, 2013 J.P. rated it liked it
This started out with a lot of promise. Socially inept middle-aged ornithologist teams with with college student as they pursue birds for a state survey over the summer.

The narrative doesn't stay on that path however, and soon becomes less interesting. Written entirely in the first person, the book is a series of mostly random encounters with odd people. The writing is fine and there's levity thrown in, but the story reads like a bunch of diary entries. Compelling it isn't, and exactly what the
Aug 07, 2013 Jamie rated it really liked it
This is very different than what I usually read & it's kind of outside the realm of what we've been reading in our book group. I wasn't sure at a few points--it was hard to keep the thread going through what felt like some very random stories--but then Kimberling just jammed on it at the end. Sorry library copy, but I was dog-earing most of the last 15 pages. I found it totally redeeming--a refreshingly short novel about the complications of living in & being from the midwest. It's about ...more
Jun 24, 2013 Gail rated it it was ok
I expected more about bird watching than about frat boy-type experiences. The book was mildly entertaining, especially about poking fun at podunk Indiana (I'm a Hoosier), but it certainly did not live up to the hype. Nathan, the main character, was good at self-deprecation, but that only goes so far to keep a reader's attention. The book seemed to be more focused on his obsession with Lola, a more than free-spirited woman whose attention he couldn't seem to garner for more than a day here or the ...more
May 20, 2016 Sue rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor
Many thanks to my daughter who gave me this debut novel -- a humorous coming-of-age story set in southern Indiana, precisely the place that I came of age. The fictional Nathan (and the author) grew up right in my backyard, so to speak (though several decades later), and the delight of knowing every little town, park, and wide-spot-in-the-road mentioned in the story was a novelty all in itself. (Evansville -- right smack on the Ohio river -- is the town in question, in case you're wondering, thou ...more
Oct 04, 2012 Cameron rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recommended
Wonderful, near-perfect stories about one man's life, all told in the first person. Fun, funny, insightful, and brilliantly-written. One of my favorite books in a long time. So much fun.
Becky Loader
Jun 22, 2013 Becky Loader rated it it was ok
Ho-hum. Another young male author who wrote about his college years and how he found humble employment as a professional bird watcher while he was waiting to find himself. Ho-hum.
Oct 19, 2015 Ariella rated it really liked it
The writing is clever, sophisticated and emotionally tender, but I felt the whole time the narrator Nathan was hiding something. In the final chapter, we get more of his early relationship with Lola, and I felt a bit betrayed that it had taken Nathan so long to tell us this. The book had the feeling of interlinked short stories, and I think this was at the cost of really getting deep into any one thing. I think the narrator held too much of himself back. Still the prose still was elegant, ironic ...more
Warren-Newport Public Library
Aug 05, 2013 Warren-Newport Public Library rated it liked it
Shelves: humor
Nathan Lochmueller is a professional bird tracker, an ornithologist. The book is fiction although written in the form of a memoir, each chapter is a story or vignettes. As we learn about Nathan’s life he relates a series of tales about his friends, his adventures, growing up in Indiana and his love of a mysterious women names Lola. His job requires keeping precise records about specific bird populations in the Hoosier National Forest and is the backdrop to a somewhat rambling account of his high ...more
Oct 07, 2013 Brandon rated it did not like it
I really wanted to like this book. As an Indiana native, as someone who spent many years living in Evansville and attended the university where the author's father teaches, and who has visited the most rural portions of the state, I was simply thrilled that someone had finally written a mainstream, widely-distributed novel about my home state. Unfortunately, however, as is often the case, the hopes I had foolishly pinned on this book quickly proved to be misguided. From the beginning, something ...more
Jul 08, 2013 M. rated it liked it
While listening to NPR's summer book recommendations I found my curiousity piqued by the mention of a book set in my hometown of Bloomington, Indiana. Although I moved away a decade ago I still find myself getting teary eyed when I listen to John Cougar Mellancamp, when I think of beautiful deciduous forests, and when I crave that college town experience. So naturally this book called to me. When I picked it up I was shocked to discover that the author looks familiar. It's entirely possible that ...more
Jennifer Chapman
Sep 03, 2013 Jennifer Chapman rated it really liked it
I loved this collection of linked fiction -- each chapter is a self-contained story focused on the same main character (Nathan), and the story moves chronologically, though there are gaps in the time sequence. It's engaging, funny, and a must read if you have any association with Indiana (I don't, but if you know the places he's writing about, it will be even harder to put down). Nathan is an ornithologist, but the real story is the trajectory of his obsession with a beautiful and flighty woman ...more
Becca Allen
Apr 03, 2013 Becca Allen rated it liked it
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 ...more
Kristine Brancolini
Jul 28, 2013 Kristine Brancolini rated it it was amazing
I'm sure that my obsession with Snapper by Brian Kimberling has something to do with my background. I was born near Los Angeles but attended graduate school at Indiana University - Bloomington and lived there most of my adult life. Kimberling was born in Evansville, and like his protagonist Nathan Lochmueller graduated from Indiana University and worked as a birdwatcher (actually, more of a census-taker) in and around Bloomington. Kimberling lives in England, but like me, he probably tears up th ...more
Apr 15, 2013 Kim rated it really liked it
Bird researcher, Nathan Lochmueller, works in a square mile of forest in the backwaters of Indiana. His job is to map the territory, record details of the local bird population and report on their habits, antics and happenings. In the first chapter we meet Gerald, a sad, lonely, genius ornithologist working at Indiana University and the person who offers Nathan this unusual job. The two first meet through the enigmatic Lola, the love of Nathan’s life and a free spirited beauty who finds it diffi ...more
Apr 18, 2013 John rated it it was ok
I write a blog called "The Wannabe Birder." It's surprising, given the modest title and my equally modest qualifications, how many offers of review copies of books that gets me.
I ignore most of them, but I accepted the offer of "Snapper."
Not only was there a connection to birdwatching, but the publicist promised it would be hilarious. And it was set in southern Indiana.
I am not from Indiana, but I lived there long enough that it feels like one of my homes. It should be said, however, that I spen
Mar 09, 2013 Jane rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, memoir, birds, humor
Snapper by Brian Kimberling is a fictional memoir of sorts, about a young man who is in love with a free spirited woman who won’t commit to him and who monitors birds for the government in the woodlands of Indiana. I am a huge bird fan so I really wanted to like this book, but I didn’t, not really.

The narrator seems to be trying to be positive about Indiana while shedding light on its shortcomings, but it really comes across as anti-Indiana. (For example, “if Indiana is the bastard son of the M
Enrique Ramirez
Sep 04, 2013 Enrique Ramirez rated it it was amazing
Before you can form the words Winesburg, Ohio or Spoon River Anthology, you will soon find yourself remembering Alison Anders' or David O. Russell's earliest work in Snapper, Brian Kimberling's entertaining debut, a novel that is, in essence, a collection of vignettes taking place in southern Indiana. Kimberling demonstrates an intense fascination with the local, and with the local as a kind of normative universe, as he conjures the cadences and rhythms of life in the Hoosier State through the p ...more
May 25, 2013 Christy rated it liked it
I think that I primarily liked this book because it was set in southern Indiana and the protagonist, Nathan, was a Hoosier through and through. I loved the parts that were in Bloomington, and I chuckled a little at the mention of the Video Saloon and the quarries. I thought that the author captured the feeling of Indiana and the Bloomington scene, but the story line was definitely lagging. If this book had been set anywhere else, I'm not sure that I would have finished it. The birds were inciden ...more
Nancy MacKneson
Jul 05, 2013 Nancy MacKneson rated it it was ok
Based on the reviews of others I had high hopes for this book. Unfortunately, tried as I might to enjoy it I was truly happy when I reached the last page!

The biggest weakness with this book is the lack of a plot. It was more a rambling soliloquy from someone who thought their random life experiences were more important and interesting then they really were.

I also found the character development lacking. Characters started out interesting but then just withered away. One of the most intriguing c
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Fiction Lover's B...: * Snapper, by Brian Kimberling 1 4 Sep 10, 2013 02:51PM  
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Brian Kimberling grew up in Evansville, Indiana, and graduated from Indiana University. As a student he was involved in a major study of songbirds, an experience central to his first novel, Snapper. Subsequently he taught English in the Czech Republic, Mexico, and Turkey. He now lives in England with his wife and son.

Snapper, which won the inaugural Janklow & Nesbit Bath Spa Prize, will be pub
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“A list of birds seen on a given day is also a form of prayer, a thanksgiving for being alive at a certain time and place. Posting that list online is a 21st-century form of a votive offering.” 6 likes
“From remote and sparsely populated Vermont, Indiana seemed hopeless; a collection of turtle-shooting subliterates--people opposed to evolution, pluralism, and poetry.

And yet. Those leaves.”
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