Excerpt from The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards by Kristopher Jansma, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards

by Kristopher Jansma

The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Mar 2013, 272 pages
    Feb 2014, 272 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

I started running away, back down the concourse. At first I meant to hide back at Mr. Humnor's, but when I got there it still wasn't far enough. Leaping down the escalators, the concourse rose up around me, and below were the great snakelike conveyor belts that slowly ferried luggage to waiting crowds. I kept on running, out past the big orange car rental sign and through the revolving glass doors. I ran down the sidewalk past the taxicabs and the luggage collectors in their red caps. I didn't know where I was going or where I wanted to go. I wanted to go wherever my mother was, or wherever Mr. Bjorn had gone. I wanted to go where all the seconds went.

I stopped when I saw a sign pointing inside again. TERMINAL A it said. Timidly, I went inside and up some more escalators to the concourse level. Finally, I would see it. Terminal A. And maybe I would find Mr. Bjorn, winding all the timepieces backward, with the same serious smile. The little round tables were the same. The linoleum floor was the same. The skylights high above me were the same. But there was no Emerson Books. There was no Phil's Coffee. There was no W. W. Gould's, and there was no Ten-Minute Timepiece Repair. There was no Mr. Bjorn.

Finally, I sat down on the ground under a long row of clocks. There were ten of them—each exactly the same except for a little sign that said the name of a place. Some of these places I'd read about, like Paris, where Xavier and Yvette had come from. And some I'd heard of, like Mexico City, where Mrs. De Santos was born. These were places that were very far away, I knew. And they all had different times than the time on my watch. In Mexico City, it was still an hour earlier. If I were there, I figured, and it was an hour earlier, then Mr. Bjorn would still be around.

I sat there listening to the clocks' little ticking noises. Inside each were little gears like the ones inside my watch, struggling and turning. I listened to the seconds escaping. And I knew then that each second was just escaping to a different clock, somewhere even farther away, and that they just went on and on escaping like that, forever.

So. That is the story of how I lost my very first book. I've lost three others since—a novel, a novella, and a biography. The first is disintegrating steadily at the bottom of a black lake. The second is in the hands of a woman whom I love and will never see again. The third is in a dusty African landfill, wrapped in the bloody tatters of my tweed coat, my gold watch still in the pocket.

Only fragments remain, which I've carried with me around the world and back again. Sitting here in Terminal B, setting them beside one another, I've been trying to get them to add up to something true. I'm staring at the margins between them—just an inch on each side—but the distance may as well be the Grand Canyon. Yet I feel certain that somewhere in this empty space, between my lies and fictions, is the truth.

It occurs to me now, as I finish writing this, that perhaps these surviving pieces aren't so different from those clocks in Terminal A. In each of them you can see what the time would be, but only somewhere else. Between them all, you can, if you wish, determine what time it is here.

These stories are all true, but only somewhere else.

Excerpted from The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards by Kristopher Jansma. Copyright © 2013 by Kristopher Jansma. Excerpted by permission of Viking. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Famous Literary Spats

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Crossing the Horizon
    Crossing the Horizon
    by Laurie Notaro
    In Crossing the Horizon, Laurie Notaro takes us back to a time when flying was a rare and risky ...
  • Book Jacket
    Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
    by Mario Giordano
    Munich matron and self-described worldly sophisticate, Isolde Oberreiter, has decided to retire to a...
  • Book Jacket: Of Arms and Artists
    Of Arms and Artists
    by Paul Staiti
    In the late eighteenth-century, the United States of America was still an emerging country, ...
Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles

An epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Comet Seekers
    by Helen Sedgwick

    A magical, intoxicating debut novel, both intimate and epic.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The World of Poldark

Win the book & DVD

Enter to win The World of Poldark and the full first series on DVD.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One S D N M A S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.


Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!

Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.