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Book Review

‘Snapper’ is worth every minute

9/18/2013

Book 091913Courtesy of Beaverdale Books

Review by Fay Jones

Pantheon Books

 4/23/2013

$24.95

210 pp.

Brian Kimberling’s funny, graceful debut novel is narrated by Nathan Lochmueller, a recent college graduate who finds himself living hand to mouth in southern Indiana where he grew up. Nathan exists on a meager salary, tracking area songbirds for Indiana University. His research area comprises one square mile in the woodlands, where he escapes the irritating elements of his hometown, trying to bolster a meaningful life and find his way.

Through Nathan’s stories, thought-provoking moments and sharp dialogue, Kimberling introduces memorable characters, such as Gerald, Nathan’s pigeon-toed, brilliant but humorless boss and Lola, his alluring and wandering girlfriend. Especially poignant and endearing is Nathan’s relationship to Shane, his best friend since they were young. You follow their long history from skipping stones to hanging out in Indiana’s stripper pits to married life.

Kimberling rounds out a picture of southern Indiana, a quirky, colorful place. Nathan is disparaging, yet you can detect affection among his wry joking. He is “driven to fury” by the people and is exasperated by their “willful irrationality” and “idiocy.” In the forest, he encounters wild dogs, hostile armed men and a vicious tornado, yet the “shafts of sunlight pierced the canopy and the leaves drifted past like the ashes and embers of a celestial conflagration.”

Though he has struggled to put Indiana behind him, he reveals a tenderness and love for his home place and an unwillingness to give up on it. Although he sees the people as hopeless, he sees them as his, or a part of him. Smart, comical, beautiful and witty, this is a bright new work, a love story, worth every minute. CV              

Fay Jones was born with a love of literature, which was finely shored up throughout her early years by her parents and a beloved children’s librarian.

Barmuda