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jump to: Sudden Death, Over Time / MFA in a Box / Traplines / Cheerleaders from Gomorrah / Coyote in the Mountains / Anthologies / Plays / Periodicals

Sudden Death, Over Time
Wordcraft of Oregon, 2012
Sudden Death, Over Time
Sudden Death, Over Time does what only good satire can—tear down the artificial and the irrelevant to get to what is human. The stories are funny, insightful, disturbing, sad, and always entertaining. They emerge from the uncertainty of our time, amid failing infrastructures, moral ambiguity, corruption, and the tenured disinterest of an academic system. Rember’s talent in bringing interesting characters to life and letting them stumble on their humanity in places at the same time common and extreme give these stories an energy that sparks on every page until they conflagrate into a controlled burn. Sudden Death, Over Time will appeal to readers with a dark sense of humor about higher education, relations between men and women, getting older, making meaning in a world hostile to meaning, or the Law of Unintended Consequences.

Tim Sandlin, author of the “GroVont” quartet
“John Rember tears your heart out and replaces it with his own. No one I know of comes close to his mastery of the short story. Read him and weep.”

Alyson Hagy, author of Ghosts of Wyoming
“I couldn’t get enough of the stories in Sudden Death, Over Time. John Rember’s wit is as sharp as the edge of a well-honed ski and his prose is as smooth and perfect as a Dean’s finest scotch. Reading these stories made me feel as though I’d come upon Richard Russo and Thomas McGuane swapping smart and wicked tales in front of a hot pub fire with cold drinks in hand. The book is that skillful, and that funny.”

Mike O’Mary, author of Wise Men and Other Stories
“John Rember is one of the most thoughtful and thought-provoking writers around. He also happens to be a very funny and slightly subversive writer, all of which adds up to a great read.”

Duff Brenna, from his Introduction
“Rember’s deft touches, the concrete language and careful craftsmanship he displays discloses a powerful writer at the summit of his game, a wordsmith who knows how to spin a yarn in such a winning way that those who read his stories are carried along with ineffable ease, perhaps seldom aware of the simple beauty of the style, the prose, its concision: never a word out of place, never a phrase without its distinctive, unfaltering Rember rhythm. Sudden Death, Over Time is consummate literature—a dazzling achievement.”

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MFA in a Box
Dream of Things, 2010
MFA in a Box: A Why to Write Book
By exploring the relationship between the writer and love, grief, place, family, race and violence, John Rember helps you see how to go deep in your writing. He also tells you what you’ll find there and how to get back. Along the way, you’ll learn how to see the world as a writer sees it. “If you have real talent,” says Rember, “and choose to go it alone without learning from all of the thousands of writers who have gone before you, for a long time you’re going to write like Grandma Moses paints.” MFA in a Box will help you take language from translucency to transparency, and make your readers feel like you’ve written for them alone.

MFA in a Box is a Silver Winner in the Writing/Creative Process category for the 2011 Nautilus Book Awards, is a Finalist for the 2011 Midwest Book Awards (Reference category), and has been short listed for the Grand Prize of the 2011 Eric Hoffer Book Award.

Gretchen Little (“A Book Review and More,” Squidoo, October 2010)
MFA in a Box by John Rember is possibly the best book I’ve read about writing and living the creative life in general, and I have a personal library full of such books. I wish I had read this 30 years ago while I was at [college] hoping to be a writer some day.”

Rebecca Elgin
“There is such a wealth of life in each essay...deep, authentic stuff about relationships, politics, religion, mythology, and everything is discussed with such perfect humor. I love the Rules for Writers at the end of the chapters...great stuff...really useful as well as entertaining. This book should be mandatory for any writing course, undergrad or graduate. This is so much more than a craft book...this is an inspiration. It makes me want to write, helps me find the courage to do so, and allows me to see the purpose in the hard work of it.”

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Traplines: Coming Home to Sawtooth Valley
Vintage, 2004
Traplines: Coming Home to Sawtooth Valley
In his memoir, John Rember recounts his experiences of growing up in the mountains of Idaho in a time when the fish were wild in the rivers, horses were brought into the valley each spring from their winter pasture, and electric light still seemed magical. Today those same experiences no longer seem to possess the authenticity they once did. In his journey home, Rember discovers how the West, both as a place in which to live and as a terrain of the imagination, has been transformed. And he wonders whether his recollections of what once was prevent him from understanding his past and appreciating what he found when he returned home. In Traplines, Rember excavates the hidden desires that color memory and shows us how, once revealed, they can allow us to understand anew the stories we tell ourselves.

Tim O’Brien (author of The Things They Carried)
Traplines is above all else a beautiful piece of prose, elegant yet tough-minded, expansive yet tightly made, sophisticated yet moving. One perfectly tempered sentence follows upon another. Part remembrance, part self-portrait, part philosophy, part ecological update, part homage to a place on our earth called the Sawtooth Valley, this wonderful, wonderful book is one to which I will return with joy many times.”

Judy Blunt (author of Breaking Clean)
Traplines is a fabulous read, a captivating and contemplative look at how we have evolved our communities in the rural West. A natural storyteller who works in equal measures of wisdom, retrospect, and wry humor, John Rember tells it like it is, but he does so more beautifully and more honestly than most.”

Bernadette Murphy (Los Angeles Times)
“A stirring account of [Rember’s] return to his childhood home.... His ardor is contagious, inviting readers to see once again the majesty of the natural world and to love what we find.”

Noam Reuveni (Seattle Weekly)
“Vivid descriptions...[and] fine writing...make for humorous, touching, and ultimately philosophical reading.”

Charlotte Freeman (San Francisco Chronicle)
“What distinguishes this memoir is Rember’s wry, clear-eyed voice and his tenacious quest to capture just what it is he loves about this place and his life in it, to capture the full measure of its beauty in language that can stand up to the place itself. He succeeds admirably.”

Dan R. Barber (The Dallas Morning News)
“Elk hunting and fate hunting in the same book? Yes. Nicely paired, too, like Stilton and port.... Be prepared for—no, look forward to—a thoughtful story about a literate, natural world-loving man who has happily glided into middle age. The world around him, especially the mountains, is an apt, gracefully written metaphor for the man.... With Traplines, Mr. Rember demonstrates what others before him have denied: You can go home again. In fact, for him, there was no choice. For him, there was no escape.”

Traplines: Coming Home to Sawtooth Valley
Pantheon, 2003
Editorial Reviews
from Publishers Weekly
As Rember relives his youth, his focus moves away from the ways his surroundings have changed to the ways he has changed. As he revisits his home grounds—looking at the antlers his trapper/fishing guide father collected; finding an old photo of his grandmother, who lived “on the ragged far edge of consensus reality”; remembering the elks he shot and gutted—he relives the turning points, the revelations, the small epiphanies “for which all subsequent living is merely repetition and elaboration.” He used to think life was about “free will,” but now, feeling the tug of his own history, he can settle for “free fall.” Rember writes sentences so elegantly crafted they seem effortless, tells stories so well turned readers will want to read them aloud. Beneath the writing, it’s Rember’s voyage to self-consciousness that gives his story power and meaning. Forecast: Readers who loved William Gruber’s On All Sides Nowhere (Mariner, 2002) may enjoy this very different but beautifully rendered Idaho memoir.

from Kirkus Reviews
A lyrical memoir of country life, and a requiem, of sorts, for one of the last best places. Story-writer Rember opens his narrative with an invitingly well-handled anecdote from his youth involving a chance encounter with Ernest Hemingway on a snowy Idaho lane. It ends sadly, as indeed did Hemingway’s life, but also with a matter-of-fact simplicity that perfectly fits its rural setting: tragic though it may be, life goes on, and so do our stories. Now in his early 50s, Rember weaves past and present, dropping in here to recall his trapper/fishing-guide father’s efforts to carve a living out of wilderness, there to ponder what became of that wilderness once the word got out to Hollywood that the skiing there was good and the people compliant; among the sometimes spectral characters who figure in his pages are a dissatisfied banker friend who is forever trying to convert Rember to the cause of making money; another friend who, having suffered a brain injury in a climbing accident, slowly rebuilds his memories and skills; and a student with a “not-very-good brain” who, before Rember’s eyes, ruins a car that cost well more than he earns in a year. From these and other figures fine and flawed, Rember draws moral lessons rendered in nicely epigrammatic, often humorous turns: “I had learned that the magic can fall out of things and that you can be involved in rites of passage that turn out to be all about somebody else.” “Bliss, Idaho, is just like Saudi Arabia. . . . Except in Bliss, the wind blows harder and the people aren’t any fun.” Plenty authentic: a graceful addition to the literature of the American West, and a pleasure to read.

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Cheerleaders from Gomorrah: Tales from the Lycra Archipelago
Confluence, 1994
Cheerleaders from Gomorrah: Tales from the Lycra Archipelago
Above all else, the characters in John Rember’s second book of stories value hedonism, physical beauty, and athletic prowess. They attempt to ski, run, bicycle, ride, dance, and copulate their way to salvation. But readers of the Old Testament and The Book of Mormon will also recognize that Rember’s people live in places watched over by an unforgiving God, a God unamused by humankind’s pretentious claims to Eden in the post-Ironic Recreational West. And yet, despite their comic insistence upon looking for redemption in all the wrong places, Rember’s characters also earn delicate, glittering, impossible moments of joy and grace.

William Kittredge (author of Hole in the Sky)
“John Rember’s work is exciting, reckless, and brilliant. Read this book. You will have a fine time; you will be appalled and delighted.”

Tim Sandlin (New York Times)
“John Rember [has written an] exceptionally good book of short stories.... Mr. Rember...must have followed the old writer’s adage ‘Write what you know about,’ because his stories, set in and around the ‘neon glitter’ of Gomorrah, Idaho, crackle with authenticity.... Writers like John Rember are creating a new myth for the West. Reality can’t be far behind.”

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Coyote in the Mountains
Limberlost, 1989
Coyote in the Mountains
This collection of short stories has earned a cult-like following since it first appeared in book form in 1989, with readers in places as far away as Nepal. Comprised of nine stories that read sequentially, the book reads like a novel, a fable of the New West, with Coyote drifting through the lives of domesticated characters in a resort community in the Northern Rockies. The book is beautifully accented with illustrations by artist Julie Scott.

Judy McConnell Steele (The Idaho Statesman)
“The people in his book of short stories... [are] damaged by life, but understand the wily ways of survival....Like all strong fiction, the Coyote stories can be taken on many levels. They are good yarns, they are sharp satire, they are fables with lessons Rember hopes Western natives will take to heart.”

Editorial Review
from Western American Literature
The mundane setting of these stories becomes, in large part, their whole point. Coyote isn’t dead in the “Brave New World,” not yet anyway, but the magic is leaking out very quickly. Rember pulls off a neat trick here, in that the mythological archetypes of his characters (Coyote hangs out with folks like Bear, a high-powered Big City attorney, and Rabbit, a former flower child who now works for a major defense contractor) provide a deep counterpoint to any convention of current minimalist fiction technique he may care to exploit . . . Coyote himself might have written this book.

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John’s stories and essays have been anthologized in the following collections:
Limberlost Review, eds. Rick and Rosemary Ardinger (Limberlost Press, 2019)
Walking on Lava: Selected Works for Uncivilised Times, eds. Charlotte du Cann, Dougald Hine, Nick Hunt, Paul Kingsnorth (Dark Mountain Project, 2017)
Dark Mountain, Issue 11, eds. Cate Chapman, Nick Hunt, Steve Wheeler (Dark Mountain Project, 2017)
Dark Mountain, Issue 8, eds. Charlotte du Cann, Paul Kingsnorth, Tom Smith, Steve Wheeler (Dark Mountain Project, 2015)
Dark Mountain, Issue 4, eds. Dougald Hine, Nick Hunt, Paul Kingsnorth, Adrienne Odasso (Dark Mountain Project, 2013)
Dark Mountain, Issue 3, eds. Dougald Hine, Paul Kingsnorth, Adrienne Odasso (Dark Mountain Project, 2012)
Dark Mountain, Issue 2, eds. Paul Kingsnorth and Dougald Hine (MPG Books Group, Bodmin and King’s Lynn, 2011)
Best Stories of the American West, ed. Marc Jaffe (Forge, Tom Doherty Associates, 2007)
Father Nature, ed. Paul S. Piper and Stan Tag (University of Iowa Press, 2003)
Written on Water: Essays on Idaho Rivers, ed. Mary Clearman Blew (University of Idaho Press, 2001)
Idaho Unbound: A Scrapbook and Guide,, ed. Clay Morgan and Steve Mitchell (West Bound Books, 1995)
Where the Morning Light’s Still Blue: Personal Essays about Idaho, ed. William Studebaker and Rick Ardinger (University of Idaho Press, 1994)
In Black and White: Idaho Photography and Writing, ed. Gail Siegel and James R. Hepworth (University of Idaho Prichard Art Gallery and Confluence Press, 1994)
Visions and Voices from the Northwest, ed. Johanna Hays (University of Idaho Press, 1993)
Dreamers and Desperadoes: Contemporary Short Fiction of the American West, ed. Craig Lesley and Katheryn Stavrakis (Bantam Doubleday Dell, 1993)
Traveler’s Tales: Thailand, ed. James O’Reilly and Larry Habegger (1993)
Writer’s Northwest Handbook, 4th edition, ed. Dennis Stovall and Linny Stovall (Media Weavers, 1991)
High Sky Overall: Idaho Fiction at the Centennial, ed. Richard Ardinger and Ford Swetnam (Idaho State University Press, 1990)

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Cowboy Dreams
Produced Spring 1994, Lewis-Clark State College
Produced December 1992, Albertson College of Idaho

Produced May 1991, Albertson College of Idaho
Produced May 1986, Montana Masquers Playwriting Festival

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Selected Periodical Bibliography
Weekly column, Boise Weekly, 2013-2015
“End Notes” (monthly column), Idaho Mountain Express, 2006-2011
“A Few Rocks from the Box: A Meditation,” High Desert Journal, Fall 2010
“When a Cold Place Turns Hot,” High Desert Journal, Fall 2007
“The Truth and Other Howlers,” Montana Journalism Review, Summer 2007
“When a Cold Place Turns Hot” and Interview, Silk Road, Spring 2007
“The Best Seats in the House” (book review), Idaho Yesterdays, Fall/Winter 2006
“Son of Banshee” (fiction), Ronde Dance, August 2006
“Insulation Out the Door,” The Bear Deluxe Magazine, Spring-Summer 2006
“Burning Willows,” High Desert Journal, Fall 2005
“Exiles in the Now” (book review), Idaho Yesterdays, Summer 2005
“Black on White” (Lost Trail), Skiing Magazine, March/April 2002
“Conjuring Kiki,” Skiing Magazine, October 2001
“Adventure in Andorra,” Skiing Magazine, March/April 2001
“Safe Harbor” (Schweitzer Mountain), Skiing Magazine, January 2000
“Red’s Retro Charm” (Red Mountain, B.C.), Mountain Sports and Living, Spring 1999
“Searching for Truth and Beauty in the Sawtooths” Skiing Magazine, November 1998
“The Slide of a Lifetime,” Mountain Sports and Living, September 1998
“Bluegrass and Backcountry” (Telluride), Skiing Magazine, March/April 1998
“The Rescuers” (Sun Valley Ski Patrol), Skiing Magazine, February 1998
“Bigger’s Better” (Big Mountain, Montana), Snow Country, November 1997
“Greenland Dreams,” Snow Country, February/March 1997
“The Unknown Okanagan,” Snow Country, January 1997
“Skiing the Volcanoes,” Snow Country, March 1996
“Climbing to the Steeps in the Sawtooths,” Snow Country, December 1995
“Adventures in the City of Skis” (Whistler/Blackcomb), Skiing Magazine, December 1995
“Jumping In” (New Zealand), Skiing Magazine, February 1995
“When Destinations Die,” Northern Lights, Winter 1994
“Schweitzer Hits the Big Time,” Snow Country, December 1992
“On the Lakes and Mountains of Up-Country Idaho,” Travel and Leisure, May 1992
“View from the North,” Idaho Mountain Express, column 1988-1992
“Mule Packer Memories,” Travel and Leisure, October 1991
“A Good Life Over a Good Living” (McCall, Idaho), Snow Country, July/August 1991
“Of Men and Mackinaw,” Wildlife Conservation, March/April 1991
“Return of the Native,” Wildlife Conservation, September/October 1990
“Cougar: The All-American Predator,” Wildlife Conservation, March/April 1990
“The News of Our Lives,” The Redneck Review, Spring 1990
“Thailand’s Highland Treasure,” Travel and Leisure, February 1990
“Report from Sawtooth Valley,” Boise Magazine, column 1988-1990
“Thai Time,” Travel and Leisure, November 1989
“Who’ll Save the Land?” Travel and Leisure, March 1989
“Water,” Sun Valley Magazine, Summer 1983
“The Trustfunder” (fiction), Sun Valley Magazine, Fall/Winter 1982/83
“A Country Gothic” (fiction), Sawtooth: A Journal of the Imagination, No. 4, 1979
“So You Wanna Be A Cowgirl” (fiction), Fasching 78, December 1977
“Scenes from a Trip to the Sawtooths,” Sun Valley Magazine, September 1976
“The Tire” (fiction), Harvard Advocate, Spring 1973
“Diary of a Wilderness Ranger,” Naturalist, Autumn 1971