by Brian Kimberling
Pantheon, 2013. 210 pgs. Fiction
Nathan Lochmueller has a degree in philosophy and no job, until he lucks into one as a bird researcher. He has to be in the field at 5:00 a.m. every day, plotting and triangulating the locations of birds' nests, naming the birds he feels friendly towards, tromping through thistle and swampland, in Southeastern Indiana. Nathan is in love with the lovely Lola, who likes him but is constitutionally predisposed to flit from guy to guy. He is also beset in the woods and out with a wide array of "characters": his Uncle Dart and Aunt Loretta, briefly resituated from Texas but driven back home by the neighbors who thought they were Klansmen, and by the Klansmen who thought they should be neighbors; the crazed fisherman who was outdueled for a catfish by a bald eagle; his childhood friend Shane who took a break from working on his degree to smoke banana peel using a recipe from The Anarchist's Cookbook. (My favorite quote: "Shane was pursuing a degree in library science. He hated it. He wanted to work with books but was compelled instead to study 'information
architecture' . . . . 'One of the professors called the phone book a database with limited search functionality . . . . That's when I decided to take a break'." Snapper is laugh out loud funny which I know because it made me laugh out loud. It is also tender and snarky, a story by and about a man who is annoyed to death by "his people," and place, and who loves them dearly as well.