Jake Wolff

Cindy Seip

Jake Wolff was born and raised in Maine. He received an MFA in fiction from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and a Ph.D. in creative writing from Florida State University. His writing has appeared in journals such as Tin House, One Story, and American Short Fiction. In Wolff’s first novel, The History of Living Forever (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) a chemistry student falls for his teacher and uncovers a centuries-old quest for the elixir of life. The morning after the death of his teacher and lover, Conrad Aybinder receives a bequest. As it turns out, the professor was not just a chemist, but an alchemist, searching for a mythic elixir of life. His death was sudden, yet he somehow managed to leave twenty years’ worth of his notebooks and a storage locker full of expensive, sometimes baffling equipment in the hands of his star student. The notebooks contain cryptic “recipes,” but no instructions; they tell his life story, but only hint at what might have caused his death. As Conrad pieces together the solution, he finds he is not the only one to suspect that the professor succeeded in his quest. The History of Living Forever takes us from Maine to Romania to Easter Island and introduces a cast of unforgettable characters, from drug kingpins to a group of immortalists masquerading as coin collectors. A review in the New York Journal of Books noted that “[…] At times, the novel reminds one of the work of Thomas Pynchon in its paranoid sense of a dark, secret world underneath what we think of as normal reality, but Wolff has his own, unique vision and a gripping poetic style.”