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The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards: A Novel (edition 2013)

by Kristopher Jansma

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2521945,464 (3.87)9
Member:ltcl
Title:The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards: A Novel
Authors:Kristopher Jansma
Info:Viking Adult (2013), Hardcover, 272 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:kim debut authors arc

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The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards by Kristopher Jansma

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Works of fiction about the fiction writer's struggle to find a voice and get words down on paper are more likely to find a sympathetic audience among other writers than among general readers, who may not care much about that particular struggle. Such a book is The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards, the first novel by Kristopher Jansma. Jansma's narrator is indeed a fiction writer, one who starts his writing career early, to fill the time while awaiting the return of his mother from her job as an airline hostess. It is in the airline terminal where he writes, and loses, his first manuscript. But he is also, in broader terms, a creator—unreliable and shape-shifting and something of a charlatan—whose most noteworthy and audacious fictional creation might be his own life. We never learn this young man's name, instead following him through a series of adventures under various aliases and guises as he pursues his art, the lost love of his life, and his best friend, also a writer but a much more successful one. These adventures take place in various locales in the US, Africa and Europe. The novel is clever, playful and endlessly inventive, crammed with exotic settings and elaborate incident, peppered with references to other authors and literary works, and told with verve and self-deprecating humour. Throughout, Jansma’s narrator maintains an ironic distance, from both the reader and what’s happening on the page, as if to imply “all this happened but it is not necessarily true.” In the end, the book’s circular structure takes us back where we started, to the airline terminal, where, instead of a lost manuscript, a different manuscript is waiting to be found. The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards, as the title suggests, is also a book about the fluid nature of identity and the ways in which we alter ourselves to accommodate shifting realities. The book is sometimes confusing. It is the antithesis of a straightforward narrative, and some readers may find its deliberate disjointedness frustrating. But it also entertains, at times grandly, in the cheeky, subversive and highly self-conscious manner of, say, a movie about making movies. ( )
  icolford | Apr 17, 2016 |
writing itself is great but story was too choppy for my taste ( )
  eenerd | Sep 29, 2015 |
There were parts of this book that were amazing,as good as anything I've ever read. There were other parts that were tedious. The characters are not the most likeable, but then who is, if you really get to know them. That being said, you can't get to know these characters very well because they lie, pretend, and posture all the way through their lives. Which is kind of the point of the story.

I will read more Kristopher Jansma. ( )
  laurieindra | Jan 4, 2015 |
recommended by The Relentless Reader
  phrenetic.mind | Dec 30, 2014 |
The narrator - who claims to be the author - of this book describes his coming of age as a storyteller and writer. As a teenager, he learns the joys of pretending to be something he is not, and he channels that joy into his writing. He becomes close friends with his biggest competitor, who is also a writer. He has an on-again-off-again relationship with an actress. This book explores those relationships, but more than anything, it explores the narrator's on-again-off-again relationship with the truth. He is so busy making up stories about his own life that it is hard to tell what he believes and what he does not, and hard to tell how fictional the book is.

The writing is delightful - the book is worth reading for the writing alone. The themes of truth and fiction become very meta, as a writer writes a novel about a writer inventing stories and perhaps believing them. ( )
  Gwendydd | Dec 27, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
The strain of living up to this exhortation shows, resulting in a novel that's so emphatically slanted — or skewed — it's practically in italics. But there's plenty to relish in this noteworthy debut, especially on revisiting the opening pages once you've made it to the end. Typical of Jansma's cunning artistry is a lovely checkers metaphor that explains being kinged as "gaining the ability to reverse course. To go against the tide, as it were, back to where you've begun." It's a possibility that holds out hope for Jansma's narrator. The question is, can this liar — er, leopard — change his spots? And can Jansma extend his purview beyond writers?
added by ozzer | editNPR, Heller McAlpin (Mar 26, 2013)
 
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Epigraph
All good books are alike in that they are trues if they had really happened... - Ernest Hamingway
Truth, like gold, is to be obtained not by its growth but by washing away from it all that is not gold. - Leo Tolstoy
Dedication
For Leah
First words
I've lost every book I've ever written.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 067002600X, Hardcover)

An inventive and witty debut about a young man’s quest to become a writer and the misadventures in life and love that take him around the globe

From as early as he can remember, the hopelessly unreliable—yet hopelessly earnest—narrator of this ambitious debut novel has wanted to become a writer.

From the jazz clubs of Manhattan to the villages of Sri Lanka, Kristopher Jansma’s irresistible narrator will be inspired and haunted by the success of his greatest friend and rival in writing, the eccentric and brilliantly talented Julian McGann, and endlessly enamored with Julian’s enchanting friend, Evelyn, the green-eyed girl who got away. After the trio has a disastrous falling out, desperate to tell the truth in his writing and to figure out who he really is, Jansma’s narrator finds himself caught in a never-ending web of lies.

As much a story about a young man and his friends trying to make their way in the world as a profoundly affecting exploration of the nature of truth and storytelling, The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards will appeal to readers of Tom Rachman’s The Imperfectionists and Jennifer Egan’s Pulitzer Prize–winning A Visit from the Goon Squad with its elegantly constructed exploration of the stories we tell to find out who we really are.


(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:27 -0400)

Can a leopard ever really change his spots? Can a person ever change? These are the timeless questions that Kristopher Jansma asks in this enchanting debut novel about three great friends, two men and one woman with their triumphs and failures in life and love and their globe-spanning adventures. From the jazz clubs of Manhattan to the villages of Sri Lanka, these three remarkably engaging characters grow up and grow old, fall in and out of love, write novels and wed wealthy European aristocrats. As much a story about a young man and his friends trying to find their way in the world as a whipsmart exploration of the nature of truth and storytelling, The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards will delight readers with its near perfect alchemy of emotional depth and warmth, formal playfulness, and accessible exploration of what it means to grow up.… (more)

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