Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards


Kristopher Jansma has authored an extraordinary debut novel that will hit the shelves in March 2013. Depending on how you look at it, the book reads as a novel or a beautifully interwoven collection of short stories. It is engaging and humorous, but honest to a fault, and so good you won't want to put it down.
The epic tale is narrated by an unnamed man who takes us through his blue collar upbringing with a single mother to his adulthood as a struggling writer. In college, the narrator befriends Julian McGann, a talented writer, and his actress friend, Evelyn. Julian and Evelyn are quite privileged in comparison to the narrator, but welcome him into their inner circle with open arms. The narrator falls hopelessly in love with Evelyn from the start, but the relationship fails to progress. However, Julian remains a fast friend over time and places.
In addition to being an amazing piece of debut fiction, this book has a touch of narrative armchair travel. The narrator starts us out in the South of his childhood, then we move on to Manhattan, the Grand Canyon, Dubai, Ghana, and more. Yes, more. To save you the task of looking this up, the factoid about the Imagine Peace Tower in Iceland is 100% true. Perhaps I was living under a rock when this was constructed or discussed, but I am now in the know.
The story keeps its forward momentum and unfolds in ways that I don’t want to risk spoiling for you. I’ll just say that Julian’s eccentricities get the best of him, Evelyn is bound for a fairy tale life, and the narrator is a shady bugger. You may even discover that you are in a parallel universe of sorts where names change, but the characters remain the same. Unchangeable, no matter what you call them.

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