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Remembrance of Things I Forgot

A Novel

Bob Smith

Publication Year: 2011

“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 he encounters “Junior,” his younger, more innocent self. When Junior starts to flirt, John wonders how to reveal his identity: “I’m you, only with less hair and problems you can’t imagine.” He also meets up with the younger Taylor, and this unlikely trio teams up to plot a course around their future relationship troubles, prevent John’s sister from making a tragic decision, and stop George W. Bush from becoming president.
            In this wickedly comic, cross-country, time-bending journey, John confronts his own—and the nation’s—blunders, learning that a second chance at changing things for the better also brings new opportunities to screw them up. Through edgy humor, time travel, and droll one-liners, Bob Smith examines family dysfunction, suicide, New York City, and recent American history while effortlessly blending domestic comedy with science fiction. Part acidic political satire, part wild comedy, and part poignant social scrutiny, Remembrance of Things I Forgot is an uproarious adventure filled with sharp observations about our recent past.
A main selection of the InsightOut Book Club
Featured Title of Book of the Month Club 2

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press

Title Page, Copyright

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Ch. 1

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pp. 3-20

IT’S SAFE TO SAY your relationship is finished if the only way you can imagine solving your problems is by borrowing a time machine. Snow was falling on Avenue B, and for months my thoughts had been growing darker each day...

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Ch. 2

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pp. 21-37

THE NEXT MORNING I woke up and realized that I hadn’t been rescued. Taylor was late. Then I thought about that. Can you be late if someone’s waiting for you in the past? It sounded like a lame Zen koan. I shoved the thought aside as a new worry appeared. Perhaps Taylor had no idea what year...

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Ch. 3

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pp. 38-47

WALKING BACK to the Finney Room, I felt increasingly anxious and wondered whether I should have told Junior about Carol’s death already. What if something happened to me before nine o’clock? Opening the door, I hoped to find Taylor seated at the computer, playing online Scrabble, killing time while he waited for me to show up. To my disappointment, he wasn’t there...

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Ch. 4

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pp. 48-53

THE DOORBELL CHIMES startled me when they rang at 9:13. (The chimes were another part of the steampunk décor. Taylor’s thoroughness was impressive and annoying.) When I opened the door, Junior seemed nervous. He said hello as his glance darted around me almost as if he couldn’t decide where to begin undressing me with his eyes...

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Ch. 5

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pp. 54-69

AS SOON AS WE REACHED the street, I grabbed a cab. After I signaled to the driver to pop the trunk to stow my bags, Junior’s lips opened as if he was going to say something, then he made a motion to leave, but I grabbed his arm. “Let me go!”...

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Ch. 6

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pp. 70-91

AT NINE A.M. the ringing telephone awakened us. “Don’t answer it,” I shouted when Junior threw off the blanket. The answering machine picked up, and after Junior’s outgoing message played we heard a beep. “Hi, John.” There was a long pause. “It’s Mom.” Then there was another longer pause. “Call me.”...

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Ch. 7

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pp. 92-105

LATER THAT DAY, around four o’clock, I drove our brand-new red Camaro onto the Westside Highway. Junior told us how Sylvia had revealed that her father had committed suicide. She had urged Junior to do everything he could to help his sister. Sylvia reassured him that she knew he wasn’t quitting, but taking a leave of absence, and even insisted on paying him for the entire week...

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Ch. 8

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pp. 106-120

THE ALBRIGHT-KNOX has always been my measure of a great art museum. It has a superb collection of art, mostly European and American paintings and sculptures, mostly from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, several acknowledged masterpieces (even New Yorkers are impressed), and it can be viewed in two hours or less, tops. It’s housed in a Greek revival building...

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Ch. 9

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pp. 121-138

COMING OUT TO YOUR MOM as yourself from twenty years in the future is a lot more difficult than coming out to her as gay. For one thing, my mother didn’t demand proof that I was gay: she took my word for it; but she accepted my identity as Junior-in-twenty only after Junior and Taylor vouched for me, and after I took a ballpoint pen and inked up my and Junior’s right thumbs and showed her that our prints matched. She thought we were...

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Ch. 10

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pp. 139-148

OUR GOOD-BYES THE NEXT MORNING were awkward. Mymother rose to the occasion and hugged and kissed all three of us after privately warning us to be on the lookout for Cheney. “He seems more mean than smart,” she said. “I’ve spent my life avoiding men like him and you should too.”...

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Ch. 11

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pp. 149-163

EVERY AMERICAN SHOULD DRIVE cross-country at least once, just to see all the amazing places you wouldn’t want to live. You’ll be able to rule out most of the U.S. east of the Mississippi, because you won’t care for most of the people, while out west, the clincher will be the decided absence of them...

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Ch. 12

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pp. 164-186

THE NEXT MORNING I sniffed and noticed again the stale stink in my room that disgusted me when I’d first opened the door the night before. I’d been too tired to go back to the front desk and ask for a different room. It smelled as if a ghost with smoker’s breath haunted the motel. Ravi shook his head vigorously, rattling the tags on his collar, his signal that he needed to go out...

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Ch. 13

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pp. 187-206

WE KNOCKED ON THE DOOR of room 218. Elena opened it, and Michael, freshly showered, was getting dressed behind her. I was immediately struck by how little they had changed in twenty years. In 2006 Elena would still have the same buxom chest and narrow hips, short hair, and flawless skin, but she would develop a few lines around her eyes, evidence that the more...

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Ch. 14

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pp. 207-232

FOR THE FIRST FEW MINUTES, we stared at each other as Ravi growled in the bathroom. I had to lock him up to stop his barking. Looking into Dick Cheney’s blue eyes and trying to figure out what he’s thinking was like looking up and trying to figure out what the sky is thinking...

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Ch. 15

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pp. 233-262

WE STOPPED AT A GAS STATION near Palm Springs, and I regretted not being able to show Junior the Big Morongo Nature Preserve, owned by the Nature Conservancy. “It’s a must-visit place,” I said. “If you go in May, you’re guaranteed to see vermilion flycatchers. They’re a small spectacular gray and...vermilion bird.”...

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p. 263-263

The first person I want to thank is Michael Carroll, who read a timetravel short story I’d written and told me, “I think this should be a novel.”I also want to thank all my friends who’ve given me invaluable advice and support: Christopher Bram, Draper Shreeve, Patrick Ryan, Fred Blair, David McConnell...

E-ISBN-13: 9780299283438
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299283407

Publication Year: 2011

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Time travel -- Fiction.
  • Interpersonal relations -- Fiction.
  • Dysfunctional families -- Fiction.
  • Gay men -- Fiction.
  • New York (N.Y.) -- Fiction.
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