Acclaimed author Kristopher Jansma will visit Wichita to read from his debut novel, The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards. The author will arrive at 5:00 p.m. CST for a meet and greet, and the reading will last until 8 p.m. Contact Watermark Books and Café for information about this ticketed event.
A child’s unique upbringing as the son of a flight attendant results in a young man that yearns for a life of privilege. He develops an early talent for telling stories to augment his self- image, and finds it difficult to differentiate his fiction from reality.
In college, the unnamed narrator quickly befriends Julian, another writing student with the affluence he believes should be his own. He then claims Julian’s childhood friend Evelyn as the woman he loves. While the reader understands that the infatuation is superficial, the narrator pines for the beautiful Evelyn, even ten years after she’s married to a European prince. After a falling out, the three friends part ways, and the narrator goes on to live in the way to which he has become accustomed by any means possible, including writing papers for college students and impersonating a journalism professor.
It is never clear whether the story is narrator’s fiction or the truth. Yet the reader identifies with the character, even as he lies over and over again. The reader understands that the friendship with Julian is destructive, while wondering if the narrator is ever capable of a real relationship. The reader also wonders why the boy’s mother never enters a scene, but is only mentioned occasionally. A relationship that should be the most important one of a boy’s life is subordinated to the narrator’s portrayal of himself as he sees it.
The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards is a novel one will want to read more than once, as the literary devices are both subtle and intriguing. Watch for the entrance of leopards, which are found throughout the novel, used as a symbol for faux love, shrouded introspection, and as a final death to the fiction of the narrator’s self-image. While this is the author’s first novel, he is an accomplished writer, his short stories having appeared in several journals. He is also a blogger for Electric Literature’s blog, “the Outlet.” To meet Jansma, be sure to attend his reading at Watermark Books and Café on March 1.