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The Unchangeable Spots of Leopardsby Kristopher Jansma
Synopses & Reviews
"F. Scott Fitzgerald meets Wes Anderson" (The Village Voice) in this 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 Prizewinning A Visit from the Goon Squad with its elegantly constructed exploration of the stories we tell to find out who we really are.
"Jansma's arresting debut follows the real and imaginary tales of an unnamed narrator whose ambition skyrockets after meeting the wealthy and gifted writer Julian McGann in college. The young men become friends based on a fierce competition to outwrite each other. 'Somewhere, once, I read that the only mind a writer can't see into is the mind of a better writer. When I watched Julian watching the world, I was always reminded of this.' Along the way, the narrator falls desperately in love with Julian's beguiling friend Evelyn, and in the run-up to her wedding begins sleeping with her. As Julian's writing attracts the kind of fervor that happens rarely, the narrator plods along in the man's overpowering shadow until his own behavior, and what it brings out of Julian, wrench the two friends apart. While keeping an eye on Julian from afar, the narrator struggles to develop himself as a separate individual from Julian, an effort that seems all but impossible as the two men would have been formless without the impact of each other. Jansma's characters deftly explore the blurred lines between fact and fiction, discovering the shades of truth that lie in between. Agent: Chelsea Lindman, the Nicholas Ellison Agency." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards is my new exhibit A for the defense of literary fiction. A great read — a must read. Kristopher Jasma is more than the real-deal. He's made himself, with this book, essential.” Darin Strauss, author of More Than It Hurts You
“Light and airy, The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards is a funhouse of a novel about the outsized ambitions of authors and the sneaky power of storytelling. Kristopher Jansma's debut is a whimsical round-the-world tour that recalls Calvino, Millhauser and The Confidence Man.” Stewart O'Nan, author of Last Night at the Lobster
"Canny, seductive and utterly transfixing....A first novel with the strength and agility of a great cat leaping through rings of fire." Booklist (starred review)
"At times, the novel is a string of short stories; at others, it is a set of matroyshka dolls, containing, at one point, a novel within a short story within a novella within a novel....Jansma approaches them with wry humor and a steady hand. The narrator's games never fail to entertain, even if he is constantly changing the rules." The New Yorker
"[A] tricky picaresque thick with literary allusion from Fitzgerald to Amis....[A] clever, tightly paced novel of ever-upping stakes." Vogue.com
"Though one might recognize bits of Dickens, Fitzgerald or Hemingway, this is simply a good case of stealing from geniuses. Its a breathless work the celebrates the literary tradition, while making a strong case that its author belongs on the shelf beside his forebears." Time Out New York
"F. Scott Fitzgerald meets Wes Anderson....[T]he novel strikes a chord on questions of authenticity, love, and ambition, and it reminds us that life is often out of our control, even if were writing it down." The Village Voice
"[A] slippery and energetic debut novel...rapid in pace, the language and details tightly controlled...Its tremendous fun, this book." San Francisco Journal of Books
"[T]his mind-blowing spiral of a book will also appeal to anyone who enjoys their fiction as playful as it is intriguing." Book Reporter
"The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards's intricate narrative game and its carbon-burning escapades add up to a novel that is wise about identity and aspiration, competitive storytelling, romantic obsession and the assertion that 'all these stories are true, only somewhere else.'" Shelf Awareness
"Captivating....[A] smart, searching debut about art and identity." Library Journal
About the Author
Kristopher Jansma is a lecturer at Manhattanville College and SUNY Purchase and writes a monthly column for Electric Literature’s blog The Outlet. He was selected as a finalist for BOMB Magazine’s 2011 fiction contest, and his work has appeared in the Blue Mesa Review. He lives with his wife in New York City.
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