What Remains book cover

What Remains

What Remains is a latter-day road book, travel in the extreme – old man, old motorcycle, 3000 miles of old broken backroads.  It follows him through mountains, deserts, and small-town America, three hundred potholed miles at a time.  The narrator captures the grit and grace it takes to live there, the natural beauty that revives affection for people as they are.  When a freak accident in Death Valley immobilizes him the lessons of stillness take over, re-igniting his sense of adventure about aging and the ingredients of a mindful and passionate life.

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Sailing Grace

Sailing Grace

Sailing Grace begins with John’s heart attack in a local health club.  It ends thirty-one months and four thousand miles later when he, Barbara and their two youngest children maneuver their sailboat, Grace, into Schull Harbor, Ireland.  A gritty account of one family’s struggle to do better than simply survive, it is also a commentary of how love heals, dreams energize, and trauma can be a wake-up call.  From hospital ward to the storm to the stormy Atlantic, this hard-edged story will resonate with anyone who has struggled with the “heavy weather” that unexpectedly blows through every life.

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Two Pack

Author-inscribed two-pack of What Remains and Sailing Grace can be purchased here, using PayPal for credit and debit cards.

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$24.00 plus $3.90 for shipping and handling

First name (What Remains)
First name (Sailing Grace)

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Advanced Reviews of What Remains

“Do we ever stop learning to live?”

“Channeling Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and a healthy dose of Kerouac, Otterbacher embarks on a great American journey of self-examination and discovery. Searingly self-aware, driven by curiosity, John takes seriously Rilke’s injunction: ‘Let everything happen to you.’  He holds nothing back, racing ahead where others fear to tread, on a trip that is pastoral one moment and harrowing the next.  We’re along for a glorious ride in this spare and daring travelogue of the heart.”

Hank Meijer, author of Arthur Vandenberg

“John Otterbacher’s What Remains beautifully blends a late-life adventure across an often overlooked America with brutally honest self-evaluation.  His erudite tangle with age, declining abilities and increasing vulnerabilities, while maintaining a vibrant desire to live fully, is both entertaining and an essential guide to everyone. In his eclectic view as a psychologist, survivor, former legislator, family man, and adventurer, Otterbacher delivers humor, dramatic scenery and provocative insights into both his inward and outer journey down a road rarely travelled.”

Steve Callahan, author of bestselling Adrift


“John Otterbacher invites the reader along for an unforgettable, transformative journey through time, space, memory, and into the future.  The sense of openness and curiosity with which he encounters everything – from the most sublime to the most painful – offers the reader a model of attention and awareness.  This memoir changes the reader.  After reading What Remains the world and its inhabitants appear more familiar and also more extraordinary. The place to which this remarkable journey returns us is more meaningful than it was before, and, having seen through the eyes of this great writer, we more easily see and appreciate what we might otherwise overlook.”

Laura Kasischke, author of Mind of Winter


“John has a way of befriending the stranger in the coffee shop, the dog outside and the reader of this memoir.  He laughs at his foibles and makes it easier for us to laugh at our own.  This old man on a motorcycle has a mystic’s eye for our connection to each other and all of life.  What Remains is a great ride, one I encourage you to take.”

Barry Johnson, author of And, Founder of Polarity Management


“…a thoroughly engaging narrative of a late-life excursion down back roads and through small towns, with ruminations on a life fully lived. A gripping ride”

Dan Gerber, author of Particles

“Life’s essential journey is in search of ourselves.  In What Remains, John Otterbacher beckons his readers to come along for another remarkable ride.”

Thomas Lynch, author of Bone Rosary and The Depositions

Reviews of Sailing Grace

Most book reviewers don’t spend much time and column space on unknown authors from midget presses. In spite of that, John, Barb, and Sailing Grace are getting some very good coverage.  Here are some selected samples:

The real story is the author’s amazing resilience and sheer bloody-mindedness in fighting for his seriously damaged heart… a remarkable book written by a remarkable person.

John Otterbacher’s exquisite tale of one man’s journey into himself and of his family’s dramatic crossing of the Atlantic is a powerful elixir for anyone tiptoeing through life and settling for dreams deferred… Sailing Grace is absolutely terrific in its rendering of the sea, of man, and our innate need to engage our soul and senses in ways both small and gargantuan. I wept at the conclusion.

Sailing Grace is a thoroughly engaging book. Wise people have known forever that life is a near death experience. The costumes of our lives can be suffocating and Otterbacher and his family shed theirs going to sea… They win big and we win along with them by reading the engrossing and perilous adventure story they made of their lives.

When hope and heart disease collide, hope sometimes wins.

Funny, tragic, uplifting, moving and humorous. It will speak not only to timid sailors, but also to anyone facing immense difficulties, setbacks and even life threatening danger in their non-sailing lives. An inspirational story with a message for everyone.

Heart disease may have run in John Otterbacher’s family, but he was determined not to let that stop him from fully living his life. And that meant testing his limits, whether by running marathons or sailing across the Atlantic four times.

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