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 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 listeners of Tom Rachman's The Imperfectionists and Jennifer Egan's Pulitzer Prize - winning A Visit from the Goon Squad with its elegantly constructed exploration of the stories we tell to find out who we really are.
I give the book 3 stars because it kept me interested to the end. I could not like the main character, finding him with little or no foundation, (which is a key theme of the book), and ultimately disappointing as a man, friend, lover and son.
Ballerini was excellent, however, a true master of characters.
What kept me interested was the hero's inevitable self discovery. The cleverness of the book is how he comes to this discovery.
In the meantime we are treated to an extraordinary cast of characters. The wealthy, genius, arrogant, and suicidal author and best friend. (I can't use names for reasons that will become evident should you read or listen to this book.) The beautiful actress and lover, another clever clue to his self discovery. An unforgettable patriarch holed up in Sudan and ravaged with dementia.
In the end as shallow as I am, I look to fall in love with the main character as well as the story. As a boy, he won my heart, only to break it as he does his own and all who love him.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
I bought this book because Edoardo Ballerini reads it. I had never heard of Mr. Jansma. Now I know why I've never heard of him. His writing is the definition of boredom. I listened to three and a half hours of it, giving it the old college try, but after that I could take no more. There are a few cute scenes in it, as near the beginning when the narrator describes himself as a boy, watching an old watchmaker in an airport kiosk fixing watches. I should have stopped there. By the time I quit it, I did not care a whit about any of the characters, and I could not, or did not, follow the plot at all. It seems to be something of an F. Scott Fitzgerald wannabe. It becomes very trite very quickly, piling up all sorts of artsy, wealthy Manhattan socialites of many nationalities, all of whom meet at cocktail parties. One of them opens up the trunk of his car and finds cases of caviar, which he and the narrator eat while they sit on the car's bonnet. Whooppeeee! Your time is way more valuable than any attempt to listen to this, and there are literally thousands of books in this genre. Please don't buy it. If you do, don't say I didn't warn you. Mr. Ballerini still reigns, but you just cannot make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.
9 of 13 people found this review helpful
I picked this book because it was narrated by Edoardo Ballerini, after having heard him deliver Beautiful Ruins. His talent for capturing the accents and even cadence of different characters, his fluidity of speech even when the words are in another language, and just the overall smoothness make him my favorite narrator, hands down. That said, if the book is boring or ridiculous, I still wouldn't waste time on it. This book was not a waste of time. Although it dragged in a few parts, it ties together neatly in the end and was meaningful, engaging, and honest in the shortcomings of its characters, so, overall--you can't go wrong with this one.
Takes a careful reading to capture all of its erudite charm. To a casual reader, it may appear tedious but open your eyes to the whispers of genius that float along just below the surface and immerse yourself in a fascinatingly quite read that will dig loudly within your mind and soul leaving you breathless. Is this my story? Is this everyone's story? Be honest, and find out for yourself. The narrator is a perfect companion for the journey.
i finished the book inclear as to the sudden name changes but still..it was pleasant and kept me coming back
Fantastic book, I will recommend it to all my friends. And the performance was fantastic. I felt every moment.