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The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  4,154 ratings  ·  686 reviews
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 Jans
Hardcover, 251 pages
Published March 21st 2013 by Viking
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Grace I listened to it! As someone who has a hard time engaging with audio books/staying awake in general, I found it to be very captivating and enjoyable.…moreI listened to it! As someone who has a hard time engaging with audio books/staying awake in general, I found it to be very captivating and enjoyable. Did you like it? (less)

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3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,154 ratings  ·  686 reviews

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Mar 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction

But without fingers I couldn't hit the keys on the typewriter or grip a pen. At first I think this may be some sort of sweet relief--a reprieve from writing the same scene over and over. But the writing over and over again isn't a sign of madness. It's the only thing letting the madness out.

This is a first time novel about a writer who has yet to be published.

A treacherous genre filled with many books that I think appeal to people younger than myself, and which once appealed to me more than the
Jan 08, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
The prose in The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards is exceptional, and often exquisite. The composition is reckless, daring, innovative, exuberant and self-assured. It's a book that I should have loved, but my heart felt atrophied from lack of use. It almost seemed as though the book was so keyed into its own cleverness that it neglected to care about the characters.

I think my desire for some emotional connection is behind my impression that the writing was uneven. There were moments where I couldn
Dec 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
“Tell all the truth but tell it slant.”

That quote from Emily Dickinson is the driving force behind this masterful, creative, spectacular debut novel from Kristopher Jansma, and he never lets you forget that, even for a second.

It’s divided into two halves: What Was Lost and What Was Found, each of which is structured as a sort of collection of interconnected stories. While reading the first half, I was struck by how realistic it felt; I assumed that this was surely an almost-true account of Jans
Bill Khaemba
One of The Best Books I have read so far this year
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This book is under the category of Mind blown

The story follow the perspective of an Unknown Narrator and throughout the whole book we get snippets of his life and pieces of his writing and they are all kind of bundle up, so it’s really hard to discern the truth from the fiction and he never reveals his name to the reader or the other characters in the book. As he tries to grow into his writing and loose himself into his work, we witness how th
Apr 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
“Somewhere in this empty space, between my lies and fictions, is the truth.” With those bold and arresting words, Kristopher Jansma – certainly one of the most inventive and imaginative writers I’ve read lately – launches his ode to storytelling.

He starts with a basic template that most of us have read in various iterations: an aspiring boy from a not-so-great background falls under the spell of a far more worldly and insanely talented friend. Both would-be writers identify each other as worthy
Mar 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
GoodReads is asking me "What did you think?" about the book. Well, I wish I could answer that coherently, but The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards is so different to anything I've read in a long time that I don't know what to think. My mind boggles.... days after finishing it, I still can't work out what is really is about! Is it about a writer's journey to publishing his first book? Some tongue-in-cheek memoirs by the author? Is it magical realism where nothing is what you think it is and everyon ...more
Susan Tunis
Apr 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Not all the leopards are metaphorical…

Look, I won’t claim there aren’t disappointments, but after decades of selecting books for myself, I’ve gotten pretty good at guessing what I’m going to like. And from the first time I heard even the briefest description of The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards, it was high on my must-read list. I mean, seriously, the title alone--somehow it just spoke to me. And I wasn’t disappointed.

But the odd thing is, when I read the jacket copy, the part that I really hon
Feb 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
This book must be so satisfying for any novelist who has ever been asked, "So what was truth and what was fiction?" Kris Jansma is clearly having so much fun playing with storytelling as his unnamed and unabashedly unreliable narrator baldly lies his way around the globe, trying on new identities at every stop. The fun is infectious, even though the characters are often quite miserable. In one chapter there is a novel within a story within the novel. Or something like that. After a while, you'll ...more
Mackenzie Brooks
Jun 25, 2013 rated it it was ok
If Jansma meant for this book to satirize itself, then it's funny. If not, then it's not very good. It's a book about writers struggling to write well by an author who is struggling to write well. He clearly wanted to do something clever and layered, all things I enjoy, but it was not done well. It felt like it was written by a precocious teenager who might eventually be a good writer but was not there yet.
Shawn Mooney
Jul 17, 2017 marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
Within the first 50 pages, this was starting to remind me too much of a book I hated and bailed on, Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon. I am deeply, deeply allergic to modern satirical novels. I'm done.
May 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, 5-stars
A contender for the title of "cleverest book I have read". This novel combines the ideas of meta-fiction and the unreliable narrator to create something that is a joy to read. I think at one point I was reading excerpts from a novel within a short story, within a novella within a novel! But I’m not 100% sure. It’s the humour of the book that stops it from feeling overly pretentious or forced (because it could so easily have headed down that path).

It is Jansma’s first novel and it’s narrated by a
Larry H
Mar 25, 2013 rated it liked it
"These stories are all true, but only somewhere else."

So says the narrator of Kristopher Jansma's appealing yet frustrating novel-in-stories, The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards. From an early age, he wanted to be a writer, and he simply can't stop reinventing himself and the situations around him. As a teenager in North Carolina, he introduces himself as a character in a Wilkie Collins novel when pressed into service escorting a girl he is enamored with to her debutante ball. In college in the B
Dec 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a brilliant book written by a 21st century author who redefines and restores the novel to what it should be: an imaginative romp through time and space while being allegorical, metaphorical and engaging, where the mantra of “tell the truth but slant it” is followed to the letter.

The unknown and unreliable narrator (he has many aliases throughout the novel, and is therefore not worth naming here) is trying, unsuccessfully, to write his break-out novel while all the while being enamoured a
Sep 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was hysterical! Completely different story telling and most enjoyable.
Another in a recent series of audiobooks that can best be described as "exhausting" I'm afraid, with a plot that careens and lurches like a pinball game. Eduardo Ballerini's excellent audio narration helped with my resolve to get to the end, which was sorely tempted around halfway through, with the trio dissolved, and the self-identified unreliable narrator going his own way. Jeffrey (a/k/a Julian) was almost endearing, reminding me a bit of Sebastian in Brideshead Revisited, so my flagging inte ...more
Jul 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book!

I can see its flaws -- a writer writing about a writer struggling with writing -- but I love it despite its hyper "self-awareness." I appreciated the spiraling stories within stories that Jansma creates and even the moments of confusion as names and identities constantly switch. It's a smart thought-provoking novel about storytelling, identity, love and literature.

This is the second book I've read recently in which the author points out that the best stories start in the middle
Mar 24, 2013 rated it it was ok
I almost rated this one star, and that was factoring in my Debut Star Bump. I decided to go with two because, in contemplating this, I believe Jansma is probably a better author than this book suggests. Also, because I read an advance, I wanted to allow for the fact that, perhaps, there was a final rewrite that made this better than what I read.
This felt as if the author was trying way too hard to be clever, inventive and witty..., as if he could just see the reviews saying "... witty", "invent
Tereza Eliášová
Oct 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: česky, moje
Tak jo, tuhle knihu jsem dočetla tak před měsícem, přinejmenším... Zkrátka mám za sebou pár chaotických týdnů, ale teď snad bude víc času na čtení a dumání o knihách a moc se na to těším :)

Zatím k tomuhle příběhu řeknu, že se mi líbíl fakt moc. Uvažovala jsem i o pěti hvězdičkách, ale zatím takhle. Až o něm sepíšu článek na blog, možná hodnocení ještě poupravím. Tak snad brzo!
Bennett Gavrish
Mar 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
(Note: Viking Press provided me with a copy of The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards for the purpose of this review.)

Grade: B+

L/C Ratio: 90% Literary / 10% Commercial

Thematic Breakdown:
30% - Writing
25% - Friendship
20% - Love
15% - Identity
10% - World travels

Addictiveness: Medium
Movie Potential: 1 Thumb Down
Re-readability: Medium

As Kristopher Jansma proves in his debut novel, an experimental piece of fiction doesn't always have to feel like an experiment to its reader. The Unchangeable Spots of Leopa
Mar 30, 2013 rated it liked it
The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards hits a reading sweet spot for me. It's a concise, well told narrative, a series of short stories that add up to a complete novel, all overlaid with a postmodern evaluation of the nature of fiction. So the book gets off to a great start. And the opening chapters/stories deliver on the initial promise. They are compelling, touching, and memorable, reminiscent of Michael Chabon's initial work.

However, as the book progresses, I felt a loss of momentum, and I had mo
Apr 04, 2013 rated it liked it
It took me a while to figure out how I wanted to start this review. This is only because I am torn about this book. On one hand I like that Mr. Jansma played on the idea of deception and liars. Each chapter was like a mini story that just added and built onto the next story. Kind of like a movie within a movie. Also, I liked all the different places that I traveled in this book. However on the flip side of this book, I never really connected with the characters. For the same factor as to why I l ...more
Romanzo originale e a tratti divertente sul rapporto tra due scrittori conosciutisi all’università, in cui realtà e finzione si mischiano continuamente. Godibile.
If you like books about books and meta-level fiction, you will love Jansma's novel.

And it's not so high concept that it's difficult to read. It's actually quite fun.

The protagonist of Jansma's novel is an aspiring writer, and as such he is consumed with the task of writing and its affiliated tasks: reading great works of literature, having adventures so that he can "write what he knows," workshopping with other writers, taking creative writing classes, writing drafts, revising and despairing t
Nov 21, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I hate to stereotype about literature that comes from a particular region but this book had "New York Literary Snooty Snoot" written all over it. You know what I'm talking about. The kind of book that just meanders on and on, sniffing it's own farts, with eyes planted firmly at it's own navel, never moving an inch. This book was full of "rich people problems" and more specifically "rich, east coast, white people" problems. While some of their emotions rang true, they never rang true as character ...more
Nemám ráda knížky, z kterých čpí kurzy tvůrčího psaní. A nemůžu si pomoct, ale knížka Kristophera Jansmy na mě takto působila. Přitom našlápnuto měla dobře, už jen ten skvělý kompoziční nápad, kdy se první půlka knihy věnuje tomu, co se ztratilo, a druhá tomu, co se našlo. Když chcete upéct koláč bez lepku a bez cukru a bez laktózy a nemáte s tím zkušenost, dost možná bude bez chuti a určitě se bude příšerně drobit. Kristopher Jansma jako by chtěl taky experimentovat a vyhnout se tradičním román ...more
Linda Lackey
Jun 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Rudyard Kipling’s How the Leopard Got its Spots is one of many pieces of literature that The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards alludes to. Perhaps the most telling allusion is the line from an Emily Dickinson poem – “Tell all the truth, but tell it slant”, since Jansma’s book is a series of slanted tales told by a highly unreliable narrator. The fact that you never really even know this narrator’s name enhances the colorful telling of the chapters that read more like individual interconnected tales ...more
Feb 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to J.A. by: Eric Boss
This is highly addictive for fans of literary fiction; it’s lit fic crack! I sped through it in a day and a half, but I absorbed it too quickly the first time so I had to start over and re-read it at a slower pace. As the unnamed narrator describes the work of another writer:
“It is the rare sort of book that resembles nothing else and yet somehow seems intensely familiar. From the first line you feel your own heart begin to beat differently. Once it’s over you want to begin it again.”

That is pre
Apr 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
The unnamed narrator of The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards is an aspiring fiction writer, who views the world for its literary possibilities, instead of its reality. Debut author Kristopher Jansma masterfully plays with his audience throughout this novel, teasing readers by blurring the lines between truth and lies, plagiarism and acting, and fiction and life. The narrator claims his mantra is the line "Tell all the Truth but tell it slant" from Emily Dickinson's poem, but I think the real inspi ...more
Karen Foster
Apr 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I absolutely adored this book - this story was full of beautiful prose, and was also a totally unique reading experience. Sometimes it felt like a collection of gorgeously written short stories, and at other times like a page-turning novel. I loved the way the spiraling stories and switching of names and identities gave me a feeling of never being quite sure of things. Yet due to the strong themes of truth, lies and story telling, it never felt too 'meta' or so high concept as to be too challeng ...more
Garlan ✌
What a great read! Excellent story telling from an unreliable protagonist. This initially felt like a short story collection with interweaving characters, and each "chapter" could be read as a stand alone story, but taken together they do represent a somewhat chronological story of a life not so well lived. Not only is our hero unreliable, he is, at times, unlikeable due to some unsavory characteristics and practices. Still, the stories were, for the most part, fascinating and a bit overboard. I ...more
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My second novel "Why We Came to the City" has been called "a beautiful, sprawling and generous book [..] a heartfelt novel, tender and painful and cathartic all at once.” (Michael Schaub, NPR Books) and a "wonderful, unforgettable novel [...] which leads to profound questions about causes and what comes next.“ (Kit Reed, The Miami Herald).

My previous novel, "The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards" has
“Does it sting like this because I've been robbed or because it was never mine to steal? ... Maybe an idea, like love, cannot ever be stolen away, just as it cannot ever have belonged to me and only me.” 12 likes
“She’s just this character to you. Both of us are! And we always have been. You don’t know what goes on in our heads. You don’t know where we come from or who we are . . . Can you even tell the difference anymore between what you’ve written about her and who she really, truly is?” 4 likes
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