on May 31, 2013
Bob Smith has long been a treasure of the LGBT community. He is deservedly loved among comics both gay and straight. Remembrance of Things I Forgot: A Novel is Smith's second novel, and the first to be made available on Kindle. My fingers are crossed that the rest of his books, (novel and essays) will quickly follow suit! (Hello? Amazon? Are you seeing this?)
Remembrance of Things I Forgot: A Novel combines sci-fi, gay romance, politics, and family dysfunction with comedic timing honed on the stage, and now brilliantly carried over into the written word. The book is perfectly paced, the characters are three dimensional and vibrant, the story is thoughtful, fast, surprising, and just downright funny as hell. Additionally, it's very clear that Smith has done his political research. In lesser skilled hands, this could have denigrated into a liberal tirade. Smith handles this by making John, the protagonist, so real that his anger toward the Republican party is a natural extension of who he is. Had John not expressed such strong and heartfelt feelings, both political and personal, his character would have rung false. Instead, Smith gives us living, breathing characters that continue to live on long after the final page. Remembrance of Things I Forgot: A Novel is a comedic work of art that will stay on your Favorites List and be enjoyed over and over again.
Stop reading this review and buy the book already! Go!
P.S. Since this review is so jump up and down enthusiastic, let me assure you that I don't know the author, have never met him, and he's never even sent me a Christmas card which, you know, would have been nice...
on May 3, 2016
When I first started the story and read about Dick Cheney chasing our hero John, who was caught in a time machine by accident, I thought "Oh boy, what a weird, impossible story! Time travel, again!" But this was different because the character meets and spends a lot of time with his younger self. I know it sounds hokey, but Bob Smith makes it work. Even the Dick Cheney angle is fascinating because Bob not only weaves political commentary into it, but makes it fairly hilarious, too. I have to admit that I shed a few tears when I hit the 100% mark on my Kindle Voyage with this book. It was really that good!!!
Another fascinating thing is that I've met Bob's mother, who lived just two blocks away from me in Kenmore when I lived there in the 1990s. So when Bob describes the Albright-Knox, and many other sights, sounds and tastes of Buffalo, I was glued to the page, since I know them intimately, too! It really is exciting when you know the place the writer is describing!
But even if I didn't live in Buffalo, I would have found this book one of the overall best gay novels I've ever come across, and I've read more than a few! I would say this books is a masterpiece!
on December 7, 2012
I had read a prior fiction book from Bob Smith and had enjoyed it. So, I was excited to this one. I had read the synopsis and was not certain that I would like it. I was surprised to see Dick Cheney's name used and not in a flatteringn light. I was surprised at how clever and well written it was. I had a hard time putting it down whenever I had needed to stop. The book deals with love, relationships (family and spousal), and the hatred that still exists in this country today.
By turns humorous, thought provoking, and sometimes profoundly sad, "Remembrance" is a novel spin on the time travel meme, the tale of John Skerkston and his partner Taylor Esgard, creator of a time machine. John and Taylor's relationship is foundering to the breaking point when Taylor reveals that his time machine is operational. Taylor gets John to come see the time machine only to have John discover how deeply the Bush Administration, and Dick Cheney in particular, is involved. By accident or perhaps design John is sent back to New York City circa 1986 and a quandary exists: do you try and undo his father's early death, his sister's suicide, or stop George W. Bush from becoming President? Worse still, a pissed off Dick Cheney is trying to hunt him down and there's a more obvious problem: how do you convince people you're truly from the future? For readers "of a certain age" 1986 will seem familiar and yet an alien world compared to a mere 25 years in the future. There will be many points where readers will chuckle and mutter "Oh yeah" to obvious shortcomings of the age, like no cell phones. Some points were so close to the bone for me that I was in tears, especially thinking of weekly calls to grandparents long since dead. For me it was like going back in time and perhaps that's what Smith is shooting for; he wants us to think about how choices we've made have shaped us, but how we allow events to change us if we allow it.
Without giving too much away John Skerston and the 1986 versions of himself and Taylor set off to stop what's coming down the line as best they can while pursued by Dick Cheney. Smith serves up a sweet and touching conclusion that's also faintly unsatisfying owing to a surprising lack of answers. That's not to say it's not worth the effort as it certainly is. It does drag on a bit sometimes, but it's a bit like traveling to a much-hyped destination only to arrive and not have it live up to your expectations. In some respects Smith probably wants readers to reach their own conclusions and I'm sure there's more than a few who would wish "Remembrance" wasn't fiction!
on November 2, 2015
This was a fun read. My biggest problem was That the Bush/Cheney hate-fest is laid on a bit too heavy for me. I appreciate scifi's uses as political commentary; I think texts are more powerful and longer lasting when that commentary happens on a more metaphorical level though
on October 21, 2015
When I read this right at publication, it was the best. However, it does not age well, as people have placed a veil between themselves and the history of the Bush administration, which is an important plot element here.
on June 8, 2011
It's 2006, and comic book dealer John Sherkston travels back twenty years, in a time machine created by his soon-to-be-ex boyfriend Taylor for the Bush administration. He wants to try to change George W. Bush's path to the presidency, but also has personal goals, to possibly alter alcohol abuse of his father and the dangerous descent into depression of his sister. To accomplish his goals in 1986, he recruits his younger self and inadvertently introduces him to Taylor, years before they would otherwise have met. Unfortunately, he is followed back into the past by someone who turns out to be the real enemy of democracy, and gets involved in his wacky blackmail plot.
Think of it as a gay "Back to the Future," crossed with a brilliant political satire and featuring numerous droll observations about the world in which we live. Smith, who got his start as a stand-up comic, shows his unique sense of humor here, as well as his obvious skill as a novelist. One of the most original and edgy gay-themed works of fiction I have ever read. A full five stars out of five.
- Bob Lind, Echo Magazine
on August 5, 2012
"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."
It's 2006, and comic book dealer John Sherkston has decided to break up with his long-time boyfriend, Taylor. Unfortunately, he chooses to do so on the same day Taylor announces he has finally perfected his design of a time machine he has been building for the US government.
As the result of an encounter with Vice President Cheney, John gets sent back to 1986, where he meets "Junior," his younger self. After an uncomfortable round of flirting, John reveals his identity to Junior, and the two meet up with a younger Taylor to try and right some wrongs--in John's family, in his relationship with Taylor and in the world, as they try to stop George W. Bush from gaining the motivation to run for president. Their journey takes them across the country, and as John reveals what the future holds for Junior and Taylor (both separately and together), he realizes that some things are better to prepare for and some things are better off running their own course. Oh, and they also have to battle two Dick Cheneys at one point. Don't ask.
This book was a terrifically fun (and funny), poignant adventure. Imagine having the power to go back into your past and change an event or two that affected you tremendously. When the book focused on John and Junior's meetings with family, or analyzing where John's relationship with Taylor went wrong, I felt it was at its best, but I felt the entire George W. Bush piece felt a little unfunny. While I understand having a dislike for the Bush/Cheney administration, I felt as if Smith made John's character a little too shrill in those instances. All in all, however, this book touched my heart, made me think and made me laugh. And it's not every book that can do any of those things well, much less all three.
on April 22, 2015
Don't get me wrong, the book is fun to read, and there is evidently a keen sense of irony and humor inspiring the author, but I think he does better as a stand up comedian, than a writer of 'gay' fiction. Other than the fact that several of the characters are gay, the story is not very much about that part of their lives at all. It is more of a wacky satire against the Bush administration and making fun of Dubya Bush and Dick Cheney in particular.
I seldom like 'Time Travel ' stories, and this one hardly rises above the standard confusion.
Character development is OK, and I did enjoy reading the book, which does contain some very funny lines, but overall, it is not what I would call a gay story.
on June 27, 2011
Bob Smith is a master storyteller and this tale is one you shouldn't miss! When I finished it, I started to read it all over again. I enjoyed that second read so much I'm reading it for a third time!
Remembrances runs the gamut of human experience: love, lust, familial discord, compassion, wit, humor, sarcasm, innumerable evils and righteous indignation. With a mix like this, a book could tip over into any one of these emotions, become overblown and lose its way, yet the balance is perfect from beginning to end. The result is a glorious read whose moments linger well after the final page.
The story never flags as it integrates a gay aesthetic into a tale of family dynamics, romantic disappointments and heinous political machinations that may well haunt the Bush legacy from now on. One simply can't help but ask "What if?"
Bob Smith writes with easy grace, flawlessly guiding the reader towards an ending worthy of Jane Austin.
Buy this book!