The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards

After I charge their brains with my own brand of skeptical electricity, I unleash them—the New Cynics—upon a world that is slowly and happily critiquing itself to death.

And for this imperfect immortality, what prices have been paid? How many livers, lungs, and veins? Shredded, polluted, shot? How many children deserted, family secrets betrayed, sordid trysts laid out for strangers to see? How many wives and husbands shoved to the side? How many ovens scorched with our hair? Gun barrels slid between our lips? Bathtubs slowly reddened by our blood and twisting drowned that drowned us? How many flawed pages burned in disgust and reduced to ashes? How many flawless moments observed from just a slight distance so that, later, we might reduce them to words? All with an unspoken prayer that these hard-won truths might outlast the brief years of our lives.

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.

Each time it goes around a little bit, a second goes away.”
“Where?” I asked, as the pendulum swung again. And again.
He winked at me. “It escapes. That’s why they call it that. Escapement.

Evelyn was followed in by a sour-faced woman with long, glamorous dark hair and a stern-looking gentleman in a tuxedo who looked just like Julian, but with less hair. They both looked as though they might buy the auditorium just to burn it to the ground. Even in this crowd they seemed assuredly a cut above the rest.

Everything I write is for her; none of it is ever good enough.

He extends a hand, larger than a dinner plate, and I have no choice but to shake it. I think I can feel my metacarpals shattering. Julian jumps to summon our waitress again, mostly to avoid shaking hands with this Goliath. “And a pitcher of mimosas, as soon as humanly possible.

It was like exactly what it was. It was like a set of claws tearing through my flesh.

Makes you want to fold stories inside of stories inside of stories.

Nejlepsi romanopisci vas umeni presvedcit, ze pribehy ktere ctete jsou skutecne.

She looked at everything like it was a sad, small version of something better she’d seen somewhere else. It was how she looked at me." (from "The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards: A Novel" by Kristopher Jansma)

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?

The best thing to do—usually—was to let him play these things out. Who was I to tell a genius it was time to put his clothes back on?

The idea of it's great," I explain. "But then there's the actual thing of it.

These stories are all true, but only somewhere else.

The travel sites all describe Luxembourg as a fairy tale come to life, but it feels less like a Grimm land of trolls and big bad wolves, and more like Disneyland Paris. Luxembourg is the wealthiest country in all of Europe, and the Old City is overrun by the tax-sheltered children of eBay and Skype executives, moving in Pied Piper phalanxes with their phones out and thumbs flying—casting spells out into the ethernet." (from "The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards: A Novel (Ala Notable Books for Adults)" by Kristopher Jansma)

The truth is only slightly less interesting than the story.

the world.” Jeffrey just shakes his head. “You don’t know what it was like. You weren’t there when things got really bad. That Haslett asshole kept on calling, and then Iowa, and whenever I went out, there’d be someone just staring at me. It was like I could see my words there in their heads. Crawling there on the undersides of their foreheads. It was like they thought I knew something. And they always ask me, Is it true? Is it true? Did it really happen? And then . . . What’s next? What are you working on now? All of these . . . these . . . these—”" (from "The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards: A Novel (Ala Notable Books for Adults)" by Kristopher Jansma)

This fountain commemorates Luxembourg’s two national poets—Lentz and Dicks,’” Jeffrey reads. “That had to be a tough name to get through school with.” I scowl slightly as Jeffrey reads on. “Mr. Lentz wrote the national motto. ‘Mir wëlle bleiwe wat mir sin’ . . . ‘We wish to remain what we are.’” It really explains this strange place, I think, as Jeffrey considers the fountain. The gargoyles, the old men, the cobblestones. Maybe it’s trying with all its might not to change in any way. Maybe Luxembourg is stuck, just like us." (from "The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards: A Novel (Ala Notable Books for Adults)" by Kristopher Jansma)