"Sponsored" Review- The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards

"If you believe that you are the author of this book, please contact Haslett & grouse publishers (New York, New York) at your first convenience."

I finished The Unchangeable Spots of Leopard by Kristopher Jansma on Saturday and had to let it percolate a bit- did I like it? What did I think of the ending? Oh, and what the hell is it even about?

After a few days of ruminating, I have to say that yes, I did like it, the ending was fine (maybe one aspect was a tiny bit predictable, though), and am still not a hundred percent sure what it was about. And that's okay. 

The novel is hard to describe- it's about writing, not writing, adventures, identity, and love. There are books within book within books. There's a note at the beginning searching for the author of the story. It's definitely not ordinary. The incredibly unreliable unnamed narrator, takes us us from the East Coast to Dubai to Sri Lanka to Iceland. The story begins with the narrator's childhood, one spent in an airport terminal while his flight attendant mother worked. The  narrator wrote his first story while under the care of the kiosk workers and gift shop attendants, although it was soon thrown away. Fast-forward to his adolescence where he continued to craft his art of storytelling while creating an identity when escorting his crush to a debutante ball. He then goes off to college where he becomes both friends and rivals with Julian, also a gifted writer. He is introduced to Julian's friend Evelyn, who he promptly falls in love with. The narrator and Julian end up rooming together after college, while they are both trying to make it as writers- eventually their friendship is changed forever when Julian tells the narrator (should we give him a name? Bob? Steve? What's one more made-up name in a book of many?) that he is making his entire life up, even fooling himself.

And then things change with the narration. At least I think. Maybe. The remaining portion of the book is called "What Was Found," which I interpreted as the manuscript that his publisher ends up getting her hands on. Possibly. The character names change, but the story stays the same. The global adventures start and there is yet another story within a story. 

I fight with this idea that it's okay to not completely understand what I just spent several hours reading. I'm sure there are other interpretations, and I'm sure mine will continue to change as I think about it (or even read it again someday). And yet I still enjoyed it. The writing was a bit tongue-in-cheek, and parts reminded me of maybe a super-nerdy writer version of Indiana Jones (running around Africa, looking for a missing friend, getting all dusty- definitely). At the end of the day, what is true? What is fiction? 

And that's the point.  

Penguin was kind enough to send me a free copy of the book. All thoughts, opinions, and possibly jacked-up interpretations are my own.


  1. This sounds like a fun and challenging read. I don't read a lot of books like this because sometimes I do get frustrated, but I'm going to have to check this one out. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

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