Snapper by Brian Kimberling

9780755396207Despite the appearance of a novel, Snapper reads more like a collection of short stories all with a similar theme. In this case, Nathan who studies birds and lives in Indiana. Each story contains Nathan who seems like a representation of Brian Kimberling. We see a writer who has created a character in order to explore his own feelings and thoughts about his home. Nathan is unsure and distant about his home state of Indiana and through several tales about many different topics he explores the concept of home and love.

Our narrator, Nathan, is a rather complex man who is in love with the birds of Indiana and a woman who epitomises the freedom of our feathered friends. He is perhaps only complex due to the scattered way in which his story is told. Because of the structure of the ‘novel’ we see lots of moments from Nathan’s life, but each one is rather surreal and almost farcical. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does make for a more confusing read than if it was more formally arranged.

The topics range from exploring the wilderness for birds to boat trips into lakes and capturing snapping turtles, from the trials of marriage to the trials of drug taking roomates. There are bird facts to be learned and anecdotes to be enjoyed but it lacks cohesion. While Kimberling’s stories are funny, witty and sweet and his writing is smart and solid, there always felt as if there was something missing. It’s an entertaining book, it’s intelligent and I laughed out loud many times but it didn’t steal my heart. I didn’t put it down thinking that I would recommend it to everyone I meet (unlike the rest of the Tinder Press titles I’ve read so far).

The first half of the book is very strong and grabs the reader with a grip that makes you want to read everything about this man and his life. The initial stories are pleasant and entertaining – they hold that small town America charm that I personally love. The second half suffers a little from pushing the farce and humour a little far. The cast that surrounds Nathan becomes rather unlikeable and the stories wander a little too aimlessly.

Having said that, I enjoyed Snapper, but it’s one of those books where I find it hard to nail down my feelings. It is hilarious in places, Nathan is a great central character and most of the plots are absurdly terrific. There are far more educated people out there who can say it better than I, but this blogger just can’t put his finger on why the book didn’t capture my mind, despite containing many of the elements I love in my fiction.

Published by Tinder Press. This book was kindly sent for review by the publisher.

3star

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