The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards by Kristopher Jansma
Publish date: March 21, 2013
A debut novel from a new author (ok, novelist-he has had articles published in several literary magazines) that is outstanding. The book is about a novelist who loses and re-writes the same novel over the course of several years and almost as many locations.
It is a great story but one that ebbs and flows through the narrative. I loved it and I was at one point, a bit out of patience with it. It is that moving.
The main character, whose real name is never mentioned in the book, always seems to find someone else's life more fitting than his own. Perhaps that is what makes him an interesting character. Perhaps it is because he is telling the story and you don't need to know what his real name is, he just is. He falls in love easily but leaves the girls almost as easily.
Our story teller has a counterpart, Jeffrey Oakes, who has a best selling novel. Jeffrey is the narrator's friend and nemesis throughout the book. A great exaggeration of a writer; egotistical, manic, addictive personality, and generally unhealthy-Jeffrey is quite interesting and a lovely foil to the narrator.
Of course, there is the one girl who got away, a fairy tale princess who is the third angle of the triangle of Jeffrey and the narrator's youth.
I loved the way the story started with a young boy reading from Kipling's "Just So Stories" and ends in almost the same place. Lovely way to round out the conclusion of the story.
And I liked the way the story made me feel good to read it. It is literary fiction, something I read but not regulary.
Really quite good.
An advance readers copy was provided by Viking for review, no other compensation was offered or accepted for this review.