The Only Words That Are Worth Remembering: A Novel (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Hillary's May 2015 pick

The Only Words That Are Worth Remembering, by Jeffrey Rotter

There was something familiar about the narrative voice of The Only Words That Are Worth Remembering. Its knowing-naiveté, its dry sense of humor, its underlying sadness and hope. And then it hit me - this sounds a lot like Huckleberry Finn.

Except that Rotter's narrator is speaking from the future, from a time when humanity has forgotten everything it once knew about the cosmos, and when class inequality and corporate control of government have metastasized.

When the narrator and his family are given a choice - pilot the last known rocket-ship into space or go to prison, they embark on a journey that is both heartbreaking and hilarious.

Beautifully written, in the best traditions of speculative fiction (think Russell Hoban's Riddley Walker and Walter Miller's A Canticle for Leibowitz), The Only Words Worth Remembering is destined to be a classic.

— From Hillary Nelson


A darkly comic, wildly original novel of a family in flight from the law, set in a near-future America -- a Clockwork Orange with a Huck Finn heart

In a not-so-distant future, astronomy has become a fairy tale, Copernicus is forgotten, and the Earth has resumed its lonely spot in the center of the universe. But when an ancient bunker containing a preserved space vehicle is discovered beneath the ruins of Cape Canaveral, it has the power to turn this retrograde world inside out.

Enter the Van Zandt clan, whose run-ins with the law leave them with a no-win choice: test-pilot the rocket together as a family or be sent separately to prison for life. Their decision sets off an antic and heartbreaking search for human solace in a world bent on isolation, as the Van Zandts embark on an unforgettable road trip across the ass-end of an America only slightly more dissolute than our own.

Uniquely tying an absurdist future to gut-bucket wit, The Only Words That Are Worth Remembering hauls our dark humanity into the light and shows us the precious places where it gleams.

About the Author

Jeffrey Rotter is the author of The Unknown Knowns, which was a New York Times Editor's Choice. His writing has appeared in The Oxford American, The New York Observer, McSweeney's, and elsewhere. He has assembled modular furnishings at NORAD, dressed up as Clifford the Big Red Dog for Texas school children, and written romance copy for flower-seed packets. He now resides in Brooklyn, New York, where he's edging ever closer to Green-Wood Cemetery and the eternal verdict of the earthworm.

Praise For…

“Compelling... A humbling monument to the sorrow, and the power, of loneliness... But it's not a dour book, by any stretch. Rowan's voice is as unique as it is charismatic, a rough hewn mix of Southern drawl and precious wonder. And there's a vein of humor that runs through his narrative, dry yet unmistakable.” —NPR

“A dark comedy, a clever, funny satire on the way reality is distorted by time and willful ignorance... Rotter's second novel is just as funny as his first (The Unknown Knowns), and -- in our own age of populist challenges to science -- just as topical.” —BookPage

“Using lush, sensory language, Jeffrey Rotter manages to make his futuristic tale feel vividly present. At its core lies something timeless: a family whose bonds and struggles are riveting and poignant.” —Jennifer Egan, author of A Visit from the Goon Squad, author of A Visit from the Goon Squad

“Scary, hilarious, sweet, and forlorn. Jeffrey Rotter has fashioned a fresh take on the dystopian novel. The Only Words That Are Worth Remembering is full of strange worlds, mutated language, and genuine post-human, de-humanized human feeling.” —Sam Lipsyte, author of The Ask

“Like Vonnegut at his most tender, like Portis at his funniest, Jeffrey Rotter twists society as we know it into wild balloon-animal shapes, ones in which we may just recognize ourselves. The Only Words That Are Worth Remembering would be heartbreaking -- even devastating -- if it weren't so damn much fun to read.” —John Wray, author of Lowboy

The Only Words That Are Worth Remembering is one very funny book. More than that, it clearly establishes Jeffrey Rotter's voice as a unique and necessary part of the 21st century.” —Douglas Coupland, author of Worst. Person. Ever.

“Rotter's seemingly effortless ability to marry the heartbreakingly authentic with the totally crazy makes The Only Words That Are Worth Remembering a rare display of talent reminiscent of Kafka's work.” —Etgar Keret, author of Suddenly, A Knock on the Door

Product Details
ISBN: 9781627791526
ISBN-10: 1627791523
Publisher: Metropolitan Books
Publication Date: April 7th, 2015
Pages: 224
Language: English