By: Brian Kimberling
Have you ever wondered what it is like to live in the United States Midwest, with all of its oddities and cozy small towns? Snapper allows you to do just that. This novel follows the main character, Nathan, who is from Evansville Indiana on his journey through life. Each period of his life is covered through this short novel, his younger years, mid twenties, and thirties and onward. Nathan Lochmueller is a birder who studies the migration and general interactions of songbirds in Indiana for the Audubon Society, this attribute drew me fully into this story. Through Nathan's issues with finding love, birding, and coming from a small town in a rural state I was able to identify with him greatly. The character development that this novel exhibits is sporadic and slow to build, though I assure you by the end of the novel you will be rooting for Nathan to figure out his life and to help all of those who were trapped in that Midwest town.
This novel has what I would deem a meandering plot with no true purpose but to show the reader how the Midwest differs culturally from other parts of the world. Just because this novel does not have an explicit plot set that it is going to follow, does not mean it is without merit. This book spoke to me on a few levels about the hardships that are ahead of myself in life, heartbreak which I knew, standing up for what you believe in, and taking a leap of faith for love and career goals. Heartbreak is shown through Nathan's relationship with a fly by night girl, Lola. Lola is spunky and a drifter who is never able to commit, to give you an idea of her personality, she painted Nathan's truck with mermaids and butterflies and named it the Gypsy Moth. Standing for what you believe in is a constant theme through this novel, be it when Nathan takes the state lumber company to court to slow legislation that will harm the songbirds in the area, or cherishing a human thigh bone. The court case is rather self explanatory, however you have to read the book to learn the mystery behind the human thigh bone. Having a leap of faith is illustrated perhaps in the most poignant way at the end of the book when Nathan takes a job out of his state, in my home state of Vermont. This is something that I have been struggling with for a long time, as I would love to work in Vermont after graduating with my degree. However, I realize that may not happen and I may need to move where the jobs are, this is something I am still mulling over the benefits of.
This novel paints a rich scene of southern Indiana, full of racial prejudice and quirky happenings that define the strange place in America. This book is not always an easy and enjoyable read as it covers topics involving the KKK and the shortcomings of our justice system, however I would say that is is worth the read. If you have any interest at all in the natural world or conservation ecology this novel will give you the extra mile, Nathan's relationships with the group of songbirds he observes is both harrowingly melancholy and comforting. While I do not think this book is going to be for everyone, it made an impact on my life as I am able to for better or worse relate to Nathan and his struggles and love of songbirds. All in all this book follows a quirky man, a small town, racial issues, heartbreak, and songbirds to give a complete and fully realized story of the Midwest.
Quote: "I got my job by accident. A sycamore tree landed on the roof of my predecessor's 4x3 during a thunderstorm. he spent six months in a neck brace."
Rating: 4 stars