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The Tourists: A Novel by Jeff Hobbs
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The Tourists: A Novel

by Jeff Hobbs

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BEWARE: CONTAINS SLIGHT SPOILER.
I know the book is very serious. But I still got a good chuckle every time the narrator, a struggling writer, gets invited out to a posh restaurant with his rich friends. The portions are so small that he has to look for a Wendy's or a McDonalds after they part company because his stomach is still growling. I think I remember he said something about the chicken breast was the size of his thumb, or something like that. Is it just me, or is it true that at some of the lower-price restaurants that poorer people go to have the biggest portions of food?
Maybe if you are rich you are expected to be going on a diet, but if you are poor, you could just go ahead and stuff your face.
I'm sure that's not what the point of restaurants is all about, but it's my idle thoughts getting the best of me.
Authors often pick a name for their characters that is a strong clue to their character, and I suppose I was asking myself throughout the book, like most readers would, if Ethan Hoevel is how evil? Completely through and through evil, or just a complete jerk. I guess I will be thinking about this for the next three or four days until the effect of the book starts to wear off. (And I move on to some other book.)
Another thought that keeps going through me head is that if anyone deserved the sad fate of Aiden, Ethan's brother, it should have been Ethan who would be in line for that kind of justice. But people like Ethan are so vigilant for their own interests that they would likely never fall into the same abyss that Ethan was careless enough to stumble into.
But we already know that only the good die young.
  libraryhermit | Aug 28, 2016 |
I turned to Jeff Hobbs, the novelist, after reading Jeff Hobbs, the journalist/modern historian: THE SHORT AND TRAGIC LIFE OF ROBERT PEACE (2015). That book is a gripping, well told story of Hobbs' Yale roommate, who traveled from inner city Newark to Yale on a scholarship, did well in tough science classes and graduated, only to die a violent death, at age 30, as a drug dealer back in Newark. The book was well received and has recently been reissued in paperback.

I liked TRAGIC LIFE a lot. Hobbs' crisp writing moved the tale along, and his research and multitudinous interviews enabled him to explain well Peace's Yale world and his Newark world.

Alas, THE TOURISTS, published eight years before TRAGIC LIFE, when the author was 27, falls far short of his later accomplishment. The settings in the two books overlap a bit. The main characters in TOURISTS are young Yale graduates and classmates, now living in Manhattan. The actions of the novel are driven almost totally by libido and sexual couplings - gay, straight and bisexual. Physical attraction (which necessitates repeated descriptions of clothing and bodies) seems almost the sole motivation of the Yalies and their friends. Piercing psyches for other prompts of action is not done very well.

The three main male characters jump in and out of boy beds and girl beds. Their equal opportunity coupling is described but not "explained" satisfactorily. Ah, the mysteries of sex. Yes, it produces pain and distress, but the reader here feels very little of that because the characters are one dimensional.
  bbrad | Nov 5, 2015 |
Got halfway through this and wondered, "why am I still reading this?" Characters are forced and uninteresting, writing is weak most of the time and there are way too many parenthetical thoughts - and these kind of sentence breaks - that make the reading confusing and the thoughts jumbled. ( )
1 vote omphalos02 | May 7, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 074329095X, Hardcover)

Meet the tourists, former classmates at Yale who, seven years later, must confront the people they've become while forging lives in Manhattan. David, a hedge fund wunderkind who forfeited idealism for wealth, hopes that a more fulfilling life lies ahead in the suburbs. His wife, the beautiful Samona, to whom David returns home nightly with nothing left for her, wonders whether her marriage is stripping away her best years. Ethan, a successful furniture designer with a magnetic sexuality, seeks something darker and more uncertain than the power lunches, needy family, and unsatisfying relationships that comprise his life. Rounding out the group is the story's unnamed narrator, a freelance reporter struggling to stay afloat -- financially, professionally, and emotionally -- who shares complicated histories with each of them.

When Ethan and Samona have a chance encounter at a gallery opening, they meet each other's needs. As our narrator traverses the city and gradually reconstructs the events that underlie the present circumstances, his own mysterious role comes into ever sharper focus. Only later, after David commissions Ethan to design some conference rooms at his firm and a secret triangle is formed, does our narrator begin to tie all the pieces together.

With The Tourists, Jeff Hobbs delivers a striking and stylish debut about the dark and sometimes destructive aspects of physical attraction and love, marital disillusionment, and the inevitable disappointments life can bring.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:47 -0400)

"Meet the tourists, former classmates at Yale who, seven years later, must confront the people they've become while forging lives in Manhattan. David, a hedge fund wunderkind who forfeited idealism for wealth, hopes that a more fulfilling life lies ahead in the suburbs. His wife, the beautiful Samona, to whom David returns home nightly with nothing left for her, wonders whether her marriage is stripping away her best years. Ethan, a successful furniture designer with a magnetic sexuality, seeks something darker and more uncertain that the power lunches, needy family, and unsatisfying relationships that comprise his life. Rounding out the group is the story's unnamed narrator, a freelance reporter struggling to stay afloat - financially, professionally, and emotionally - who shares complicated histories with each of them.""When Ethan and Samona have a chance encounter at a gallery opening, they meet each other's needs. As our narrator traverses the city and gradually reconstructs the events that underlie the present circumstances, his own mysterious role comes into ever sharper focus. Only later, after David commissions Ethan to design some conference rooms at his firm and a secret triangle is formed, does our narrator begin to tie all the pieces together."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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