Hobbs, Jeff 1980–
Hobbs, Jeff 1980–
Born 1980; married. Education: Yale University, B.A., 2002.
Home—Los Angeles, CA.
Writer, novelist, and activist. Worked for the African Rainforest Conservancy.
Willets Prize and Meeker Prize, both from Yale University.
The Tourists (novel), Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2007.
Author and Yale graduate Jeff Hobbs is an award-winning writer and conservation activist. For three years he worked with the African Rainforest Conservancy, a group dedicated to saving and preserving the ancient rainforests among the nine mountain ranges of southern Kenya and eastern Tanzania. While working with the group, Hobbs spent time at both the conservancy's New York headquarters and in Tanzania.
As a writer, Hobbs is also a protégé of noted Generation X writer Bret Easton Ellis, who provides a two-page foreword to his debut novel, The Tourists. The foreword allowed Ellis to ‘lavish praise on the novel while also highlighting its flaws and taking credit for improving the dialogue, characters, and plot,’ noted reviewer Charlotte Abbott in the Advocate.
Hobbs's experiences as a student at Yale help shape the background of The Tourists. The novel is a ‘post-college tragedy,’ a book ‘about the growing population of well-educated young men and women for whom life after graduation is a tragedy,’ commented reviewer Jon Baskin on the Small Spiral Notebook Web site. The unnamed twenty-nine-year-old narrator is a struggling writer in New York's East Village. In the face of the unrelenting necessity to survive, his college days at Yale seem like a lost Nirvana, glory days that he cannot reclaim but that he yearns for almost pathologically. The narrator's unrequited desires also include Samona Ashley, a beautiful biracial woman he knew in college. Samona is now married to stockbroker David Taylor, who was the narrator's teammate on the Yale track team. Though the narrator and Samona shared only a single kiss during a drunken fraternity party, that one moment, and the possibilities it represented, have haunted him for years. Similarly, the narrator's brief fling with bisexual designer Ethan Hoevel has also continued to occupy his mind, particularly since the brilliant Ethan also seduced both Samona and David.
"Like Ellis, Hobbs has a knack for conveying his characters' loneliness and quiet desperation,’ Abbott observed. Though they have not yet reached the age of thirty, they look back on their college days and their perceived lost youth with a mournful nostalgia. In this context, Baskin observed that ‘what alone rescues The Tourists as a worthwhile and compelling read is Hobbs's skillful enshrinement in his characters of the powerful nostalgia most evident in the narrator, and characteristic of a generation trained to view growing up as the ultimate horror.’ The characters hope that they will escape their fate, or at least be able to cope with it, by maintaining themselves as the titular ‘tourists,’ forever on the move and unwilling to stop long enough to think about their situation. ‘That growing up involves a foreshortening of options and requires commitment and hard work are verities they are reluctant, even terrified, to accept,’ Baskin remarked.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Advocate, April 24, 2007, Charlotte Abbott, ‘Nuances of a Love Quartet,’ review of The Tourists, p. 58.
Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2007, review of The Tourists, p. 43.
Africa Rainforest Conservancy Web site,http://www.africanrainforest.org/ (November 21, 2007).
Bookslut,http://www.bookslut.com/ (June, 2007), Elizabeth Bachner, review of The Tourists.
Simon & Schuster Web site,http://www.simonsays.com/ (November 21, 2007), biography of Jeff Hobbs.
Small Spiral Notebook, http://www.smallspiralnotebook.com/ (February 5, 2007), Jon Baskin, review of The Tourists.