Snapper by Brian Kimberling
(Pantheon / Headline, 2013)


by Brian Kimberling

A disastrous love affair between a man and a place, Snapper relates the brief career of a professional bird researcher in Southern Indiana. While conducting surveys and censuses of the same songbirds John James Aubudon painted in Indiana two hundred years ago – now in catastrophic decline – Nathan Lochmueller traverses a deeply dysfunctional society. He encounters an enormous concrete Santa Claus statue at a remote highway diner, white supremacists, the nation’s oldest Dial-A-Prayer service, Vietnam vets, and a discarded human thigh bone. And, of course, a woman who won’t stay true and a pick-up truck that won’t run.

Both a short story cycle, and a fully-formed novel, Snapper is a lyrical portrait of a rural wilderness and its very dark, very human, heart.


His writing is always engaging, sometimes beautiful and often funny, occasionally in quick succession...He's mapped Indiana and arrived at instantly recognisable human truths about life, love and above all about our complicated relationship with the place we call home. ”
- The Telegraph
At the same time as being down-to-earth and humorous, Snapper is suffused with a certain melancholy, and it is Kimberling's expert balancing of all these elements that allows the novel's insights – into who we are and where we come from – to hit home. ”
- The Guardian