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Remembrance of Things I Forgot: A Novel

3.51 of 5 stars 3.51  ·  rating details  ·  351 ratings  ·  87 reviews
“It’s safe to say your relationship is in trouble if the only way you can imagine solving your problems is by borrowing a time machine.”

In 2006 comic book dealer John Sherkston has decided to break up with his physicist boyfriend, Taylor Esgard, on the very day Taylor announces he’s finally perfected a time machine for the U.S government. John travels back to 1986, where
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published June 9th 2011 by University of Wisconsin Press (first published June 1st 2010)
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Remembrance of Things I Forgot by Bob   SmithWhy Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette WintersonAre You My Mother? by Alison BechdelThe Empty Family by Colm TóibínMary Ann in Autumn by Armistead Maupin
The Green Carnation Prize
1st out of 62 books — 24 voters
Almost Like Being in Love by Steve KlugerShattered Glass by Dani AlexanderNaked by David SedarisLife is a Circus Run by a Platypus by Allison HawnIf It's A Choice, My Zygote Chose Balls by Jeremy Hooper
Best LGBT Humor
70th out of 222 books — 362 voters

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Community Reviews

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Top 5 Things I Loved about Remembrance of Things I Forgot, by Bob Smith

5. Bob tackled time travel and made it work.

4. The sentence that made me really think about my life: "I'd failed to even try to be a failure, which is the real definition of a loser."

3. The sentence I'd really love to do up in needlepoint: "Life usually doles out horrible events in increments, allowing us time to slowly digest pain like an anaconda after a capybara meal."

2. The opening sentence. "It's safe to say your relatio
Court Stroud
Mark Twain once said, “The secret source of humor is not joy but sorrow.” I can’t think of a contemporary piece of fiction that illustrates this observation more than Bob Smith’s Remembrances of Things I Forgot. Many reviewers have called the Lambda Award-winner’s latest book a “comic” novel, but that adjective doesn’t begin to cover the breadth of emotions it evokes in the reader. It’s equally inaccurate to label the book as “touching,” or even “gay,” “political,” or “sci-fi.” Remembrance is al ...more
The premise of this book is fabulous -- a gay New Yorker borrows his boyfriend's time machine to go back to the 1980s and solve some of the worst problems that plagued his adult life -- his sister's suicide, his failing relationship with his boyfriend, his father's alcoholism, etc. Along the way, it seems like a good idea to try to stop Bush and Cheney from taking over the country. Think of all the good you could do 25 years in the past!! Hindsight is more than 20/20. Don't sleep with your adora ...more
I think most of us ponder what things would be like if only we could go back and change one or two significant events in our personal history. John has been given that very opportunity when his partner Taylor invents a time machine. Unexpectedly finding himself back in 1986, he realizes he might be able to change the future and prevent a family tragedy that has yet to happen. Being the passionate political activist that he is, along the way he decides that he should also try to find a way to pre ...more
This book has a fantastic opening line and moments that genuinely made me laugh out loud or feel for the characters, but overall the book failed to live up to my wildly hopeful expectations for it. I enjoyed it well enough, but I really wanted to love it. Alas, there was far too much telling and not enough showing, particularly when it came to the main character's emotional life, and that created a distance between character and reader that left me feeling a bit cold.

I think it also suffers from
A particularly unbelievable plot twist towards the end of this book that completely rubbishes the integrity of the main characters robs this novel of achieving true greatness (or five stars). Up to that point it is one of the most acerbic, laugh-out-loud and poignant comedy of manners I have read in ages.

A guy's boyfriend invents a time machine, and then he finds himself accidentally teleported to the past, where he realises he has an opportunity to prevent the future suicide of his sister. But
This book had a fun premise that got me interested and excited to read it: a gay man who travels back to the 80's to stop Dubya from becoming president in 2000. That is something I have personally fantasized about doing, but this book just sorta pisses all over the fun of it. It was just terribly written. A lot of it was fun, funny and original, but not nearly enough to save it. Almost all of the little sayings and one-liners that were supposed to be funny/deep just left me irritated and stalled ...more
From the acknowledgments:

"The first person I want to thank is Michael Carroll, who read a time-travel short story I'd written and told me, 'I think this should be a novel.'"

I strongly disagree. This would have been a fine short story, and Smith writes really well, with an acerbic sense of humor that is actually funny. But the relentless digressions and left-wing politics, jokes, and even Dick Cheney showing up with a gun and stalking the narrator into the past—well, it was all a bit too much. Th
Will Freshwater
"A comic book dealer travels back in time to stop George Bush from becoming President...." sounds like the beginning of a joke from one of Bob Smith's monologues. In fact, it is the plot of his new novel - "Remembrance of Things I Forgot."Bob Smith is a clever writer. That will come as no surprise to anyone who has heard his comedy. But layered beneath the witty observations and creative word play is book with a lot of heart. After John, the narrator, is transported back to 1986, he is faced wit ...more
At one time or another, we’ve all said, “If only I had known then what I know now”, or “If I had it to do over, I would…”, either quietly to ourselves or out loud. The idea of traveling back in time and rewriting history is hardly new, and the concept has been profiled repeatedly in literature, television and film.

Nevertheless, a select few titles tend to stand out as classics in the genre, such as H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, and movies like Back to the Future, and The Terminator. Author and s
Sep 01, 2012 A rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: read-2012
I was surprised to learn this was not a debut novel. The writing is quite amateurish and uneven, the characters flat and unfocused, and the whole thing seemed constructed quite flimsily. (The final chapters that resolve the whole time-travel issue are almost laughably opaque in their attempt to overlook gaping plotholes in the story.) I also agree wholeheartedly with the narrator's progressive politics, but the scatching political rants injected into what is effectively a piece of queer pop fluf ...more
Lorri Steinbacher
OK so I generally hate gimmicks and I really hate time travel and this book is almost--almost--too cute for its own good, but somehow Smith managed to charm me anyway. By page three I was chortling out loud, by page ten I was relating the storyline to my bf, who proceeded to give me a wtf look. The book is seriously funny, even when it is ridiculous, I guess especially when it is ridiculous. I do feel that Smith added in too many characters towards the end in furtherance of the plot and not much ...more
Mar 08, 2012 Dani rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: fic
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What would you do if you had the opportunity to go back in time and meet yourself? I hope it's a lot like this book. The tone is a pitch perfect --modulating seamlessly between laugh out wittiness, keenly observed trueisms and painful emotional realities. Particularly surprising and refreshing is the book's unrelenting politcal stance. He lets the villains remain the villains even though explaining (in this world) the reasons for their villianous acts. He also completely captures what's good, ba ...more
There's an quirky glee to this book. I have precisely no interest in time travel fiction or political satire, yet this book made me laugh and nearly cry at times. With perfect wit, it is a hearty but depiction of gay men coping with the AIDS crisis, 9/11 and sneering Republican politicians. All done with a mercifully light tough.

Bob Smith has great control. He could go the Kathy Griffin over the top route, speeding right past our comprehension, but never disrespects his audience that way.

He m
Adam Dunn
A dated read.
I started this when the book first came out and stopped about halfway through as it was too political. Americans think their two party system is FASCINATING and everyone else in the world hates it. At the same time they all know everything there is to know about the opposing party and their leaders. How can you spend so much of your life paying attention to something you hate and still be happy? Well, as this book shows, you can't.
Imagine this book were being pitched right now. A ga
I can't believe how much I loved this book! I couldn't put it down. A fun concept brilliantly executed.

The short description: a gay man gets the chance to go back in time and make some changes to his life and the world.

So charmingly written, with a nice balance of humor, politics, observations about aging and some outright absurdity with a surprisingly solid emotional core. Interesting characters, nice dramatic tension and a thorough exploration of the possibilities.
Andrew Porteus
Hilarious book about a gay Democratic guy sent back in time by Dick Cheney in order to change events, so that ultimately his actions end up sending the Bush/Cheney team to the White House. His interactions with his mother, his younger self, the younger George Bush & both Dick Cheneys become quite complex, and forces him to examine all of his beliefs and values. Some heatwarming moments, especially when he realizes the effect he has had on his sister. Well recommended.
Is gay fiction dead? Based on the glorious reviews and cover blurbs from Edmund White and Christopher Bram I expected so much more from this book but found it too trite and too cute to get through. The gay stuff read like something written 30 years ago and the scifi was just lazy. Bram's own Father of Frankenstein is a superior read - a great book that deftly incorporates both gay and scifi elements that propel and enrich the story.
This is absolutely the best book I have read in years! If you haven't read it, stop whatever you're doing right this minute and BUY THIS BOOK. Bob Smith is absolutely brilliant. His writing is so crisp, funny, engaging, entertaining - he's a fantastic writer. This book is ingenious and brilliantly executed. Loved the book and have given copies to friends. READ IT NOW!
Bob Smith
Jun 13, 2012 Bob Smith rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  (Review from the author)
Remembrance Of Things I Forgot:

One of Amazon's Top Ten Gay and Lesbian Books of 2011

Shortlisted for the United Kingdom's prestigious award for LGBT books, The Green Carnation Prize

Nominated for the Publishing Triangle's Award for Best Novel.

Won an Honor Award for LGBT books presented by the American Library Association
Jim Wayland
Interesting premise, and amusing, for the most part. But I knew how the book would end about one chapter in. I rarely do this, but I skipped ahead to see if I was right, and sure enough. Then I went back through and skimmed to see if there were any more interesting parts. There weren't.
I wanted to love this book because the premise seemed so great...but unfortunately a lot of it just seemed to repeat itself. It was refreshing for about the first fifty pages. I ended up doing a little fast-forward flipping through about 3/4 of the way.
Jeffrey Marks
An incredibly funny, yet poignant look at life as it was 20 years ago and now. I'd expected humor given Smith's history as a comic, but the depth of emotions in the book was a real surprise. Highly recommended.
Umm... A time-traveling homo goes back in time to stop Bush from ever becoming president of the united states thus saving all of the lives and money lost in the good-time war he created. Duh, I loved it!

Bill Casti
A sweet and absurd story, with a goal: go back in time and prevent George W. Bush from being elected. Has some similarities with Stephen King's "11/22/63", but not enough that it's bothersome. Good writing.
Plenty of funny lines, but the characters are stock, and I ended up whizzing through the last half just to see how the plot came out.
Marshall Thornton
Been a while but I remember this as completely charming and a lot of fun.
Trite. Simplistic. Boring. Not nearly as interesting as the advertising.
Didn't like the writing style. Just couldn't get into it.
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