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of Note

Remembrance of Things I Forgot
By Bob Smith

Discussed September 2015

Buy Remembrance of Things I Forgot from Amazon.com

Characters

  • John Sherkston - comic book dealer (2006)
  • Junior - his younger self (1986)
  • Older brother – Kevin
  • Sister – Carol
  • Another brother? Named Alan? Page 124
  • Taylor Esgard - physicist boyfriend to John
  • Michael – Johns’ best friend (both of them)
  • Elena – Johns’ lesbian friend (a budding comedian) and the mother of their daughter
  • George W. Bush
  • Dick Cheney (young and old)
  • Father Sherkston – cop and conspiracy theorist
  • Mother Sherkston – housewife and cynical realist
  • Carol Sherkston - sister and plot engine
  • Kevin and Alan Sherkston – unseen brothers

Questions

  1. Did you know that September 21st was National Sponge Candy Day?
  2. Obligatory first question: Did you finish it? And did you like it? (And did...)
  3. Is this story a comedy? A political parody? A social commentary?
  4. Would Republican’s like this book? Is this book a scathing commentary on the Republicans? Did you enjoy this aspect of the book? Was Smith’s depiction of Cheney and Bush accurate or a caricature? Was it sufficient?
  5. Why is there such focus on saving Carol's life when they don't seem motivated to save his father's death from alcoholism? Does Smith do a good job raising awareness about suicide? Alcoholism? Is it significant that older John quit drinking? 
  6. The book seems to be quite the romp through the 80s nostalgia. Do you think it's accurate? Do you think it's just a necessary part of the plot or scenery? Or is it just a list of the author’s observations over time? We often say that some books are “dated” and, therefore, are destined to go out of relevance. Can this ever be said of a time travel story?
  7. In this book time-traveling John did not sleep with his younger self. John is gay. In David Gerald's book, The Man Who Folded Himself, there was a lot of sex between multiple selves. The main character, Danny, is straight. Would you sleep with yourself or not?
  8. Why didn't they worry about Cheney stopping them from infiltrating the bible group and interrupting their plan on preventing Bush from becoming president?
  9. Does the fact that Dick Cheney waterboarded his younger self explain anything? “He was the only person that could truthfully say he is his own worst enemy.” Did the plot twist (that Cheney sent John back in time just so Cheney could blackmail George W. Bush into putting him on the ticket and running the country after the win) surprise you? Were you secretly hoping the kids would succeed? 
  10. John is forever explaining the future to Junior and Taylor (and others). Is this an effective way to deliver comedic (and otherwise) commentary and one-liners? Examples: Page 87. Did you enjoy the explanation of the Internet? How about the commentary on society, such as emoticons and antidepressants? Page 89. Is this book an effective commentary on our political and environmental inaction?
  11. Kevin and Alan are John’s brothers. Did they have a role in the story? What was it? What does this say about John’s family life, if anything? Did John forego them because he was closest to himself? Did not talking about the brothers make this a self-centered book? <insert emoticon>
  12. Page 142. Do you agree with John's assessment of optimism at different ages?
  13. Page 150. Do you agree with the assessment of New Yorkers and the rest of the country? Do you know many New Yorkers?
  14. Do you like the way the “new” memories of the past were integrated into John’s mind? (Page 216) And while we’re there, what do you think about Taylor’s reason for being a Republican all those years? Does this imply that there are always well kept secrets in couples for their own good? Or does this help explain why John was ready to break up with Taylor? This also implies that Taylor knew all along, whereas John didn’t have any memories of “that” past. Does this kill the book for you or not?
  15. Any questions you’d like to ask? Do I ask this only so we’d have fourteen questions?
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