Quick Thoughts: Astray by Emma Donoghue & The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards by Kristopher Jansma

Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Publication Date: October 2012
Categories: Historical, Literary
Source: I won a copy from Book Club Classics!
The fascinating characters that roam across the pages of Emma Donoghue’s stories have all gone astray: they are emigrants, runaways, drifters, lovers old and new. They are gold miners and counterfeiters, attorneys and slaves. They cross other borders too: those of race, law, sex, and sanity. They travel for love or money, incognito or under duress. 

With rich historical detail, the celebrated author of Room takes us from puritan Massachusetts to revolutionary New Jersey, antebellum Louisiana to the Toronto highway, lighting up four centuries of wanderings that have profound echoes in the present. Astray offers us a surprising and moving history for restless times.

My Quick Thoughts:

Emma Donoghue strikes again! (I was absolutely smitten with Room)

Normally I don’t seek out short story collections. I might not have read this at all if I hadn’t won a copy. I’m very glad that I did. This is chock full of great tales about compelling characters.

I wholly recommend Astray. Each story is irresistible.

Publisher: The Viking Press
Publication Date: March 2013
Category: Literary
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 readers 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.

Kristopher Jansma has been named one of Flavorwire’s “Up-and-Coming Culture Makers to Watch in 2013” and The Millions selected The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards as one their Most Anticipated Books of 2013

My Quick Thoughts:

There really isn’t a way to describe this story, within a story (within another story?). It’s a mind bending adventure that kept surprising me.

You might want to carve out a day or two for this one when it comes out. The buzz is big and I think it’s going to be a hit. Turn off your phone, log out of Twitter and give this amazingly written book the undivided attention it deserves. It will be worth your time.

16 thoughts on “Quick Thoughts: Astray by Emma Donoghue & The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards by Kristopher Jansma

  1. Astray sounds perfectly like something I would dig. I'll look into it after I catch up on all my impulse book purchases tonight on Amazon. This is how the TBR gets started yet again.


  2. Astray sounds intriguing. The summary is enough to be interesting but not give too much away. Reading your \”(within another story?)\” has convinced me of Unchangable Spots by itself, I love books like that, and I'd definitely take your advice to give it all your attention.


  3. Both of these look really good! I too generally don't search out short stories but in Donoghue's case, I might make an exception especially as you say this collection is worth it.


  4. I love stories within stories. Have you read Oracle Night by Paul Auster or Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi? They both do some really fascinating things with stories in, around, and on top of other stories. Off to check out The Unchangeable Spots. 🙂


  5. I absolutely loved ROOM and ASTRAY is on my list. I didn't care much for Unchangeable Spots though-it was too hard to follow and the resolution wasn't satisfying. Glad you liked it! -Thien-Kim of FromLefttoWrite.com


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