A few years ago at a dinner party one of the other guests remarked in passing that there just aren’t any new books of any merit being published. Publishing now, he suggested, is limited to the books that you see in airport gift shops and next to the greeting cards in the grocery store. Well, dear readers, that poor gentleman had no idea that his simple, off-handed remark was tantamount to handing me a soapbox, complete with stepladder to climb on, and a megaphone. You see, there’s plenty of good fiction being published. If anything, I think it’s nearly impossible to keep up with all the good books that are published. The problem is that many of these new books, especially if they’re written by a debut author, simply don’t get the press or word-of-mouth that they might really deserve. It’s one of the reasons I’m so excited that the Friends of the Libraries have started this new book discussion group — it’s a great chance for us to start talking about some of these great new books. I decided that we’d start with The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards by Kristopher Jansma, a book that had caught my attention from the introductory page’s suggestion that, “”If you believe that you are the author of this book, please contact Haslett & Grouse Publishers (New York, New York) at your first convenience.”
So, imagine the pleasant surprise I had a few weeks ago when author Meg Wolitzer named The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards as a hidden gem, one of the five books of summer that deserved more attention. I was drawn to this book because of its interesting use of the unreliable narrator, a technique that I sometimes find off-putting but in this case, as Wolitzer says, “makes for a playfully weird narrative experience.”
I’m eager to your thoughts about Jansma’s use of the unreliable narrator. Has he, as Emily Dickinson suggested, told all the truth, but told it slant? What’s real and what’s fiction? Come discuss this title with us at the first Unwin(e)d on Thursday, September 12 at 5:30 p.m. at Winan’s Fine Chocolates and Coffees.
If you have any questions about the group, feel free to get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope to see you on the 12th!