For the last decade Brian Kimberling has lived in Bath, England and before that years spent years in Mexico, Turkey and the Czech Republic teaching and developing websites. But he never forgot his Indiana roots and even now yearns for Indiana. In "Snapper" (Pantheon Books 2013; $24.95), his recently released debut novel, Kimberling takes us into the countryside of rural Indiana (he grew up in Evansville and attended Indiana University in Bloomington) in a series of loosely linked vignettes about an ornithologist named Nate who at the book’s beginning. has a glitter-covered pickup truck and a big crush on Lola, his redheaded dream girl. The stories follow Nate through maturity, marriage and a long term bird study recalling his youth roaming outdoor Indiana with his friends and recounting their encounters with angry snapping turtles, bald eagles and even somewhat mystic mechanics.
“It might not be apparent from my book,” said Kimberling, “but I think Indiana is unique, authentic and wonderful. It is such a distinctive state but not many people know it. And so for writers like me it’s a blank canvas. I really hope people in Indiana will like it.”
Drawing on his own experiences, like Nate who is conducting surveys and censuses of the same songbirds John James Audubon painted in Indiana two centuries ago, Kimberling did do a bird study at Indiana University, spending a considerable time in Yellowwood State Forest.
“The map says it’s in Indiana,” he said, “but Yellowwood belongs to me.”
But he also stole some of the outdoor scenes from his brother’s experiences.
“Don’t get me wrong,” said Kimberling who returns to Indiana often to visit family, “I love the outdoors and the emotional aspects of the book are drawn from my life. But my brother was much more adventuresome so I borrowed his memories.”