Thursday, January 24, 2013


I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.

I had no idea what to expect with this one when it arrived on my doorstep.  The Kipling-esque title led me to believe that I would be heading on a journey to darkest Africa.  Not quite.

The narrator of this book (never named) has always wanted to be a writer. Always on the outside of the world of privilege looking in, he spends years riding on the coattails of his wealthy friend and fellow writer, Julian.  The narrator becomes part of a trio with his friend Julian and Julian's longtime friend Evelyn.  He falls hopelessly in love with Evelyn while competing with Julian in writing.  He never manages to overtake Julian's brilliance, however, and ends up traveling the world while writing term papers for various students.  The further the narrator travels, the more he gets caught up in his own web of lies until even he isn't sure of the truth.

This is a very difficult novel to describe because the reader is never sure of the truth.  The narrator offers us various versions throughout the story.  The reader always feels slightly off-balance while trying to figure out the truth.  If I were to describe the style of the book to someone, I would say "John Irving crossed with Jennifer Egan."  It is a compelling and interesting read that can often be quite frustrating.  Jansma leaves us with many unanswered questions.  I really enjoyed the book, though.

BOTTOM LINE:  Recommended.  A really intriguing and original story that will keep you guessing to the end and beyond.

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