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Drawing on Gilgamesh, the Book of Job, the myth of Orpheus, his own life, and the lives of Ezra Pound and Jack Henry Abbott, with a little James Hillman thrown in, Rember (Traplines) argues that the only reason to write is to tell the truth about the soul-less, life-denying, nature-destroying culture we inhabit. This news simultaneously taps into a writer's deepest fantasy-I'm the one, the truth teller-and nightmare-writing really does require a descent into hell, and makes the writer superhuman, able to bear truths the rest of society can't. There must be a lot of kryptonite about, then, because Rember's effort often reads like a cross between self-help manual (face the darkness!) and a teacher's cri de coeur (go deeper; don't make me read another puerile story!). It's hard to argue with some of his points-yes, language lies, especially when writers mistake prettifying for deepening. But when the insights have to be plucked from a mash-up of overstatements, self-indulgent personal narratives, and gnomic and risible rules like "Dream as a God, write as a mortal," most writers and would-be-writers will opt to find another box.
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"Rember's MFA in a Box: A Why to Write Book is more than an advice book with a catchy title. What makes it different than the many, many books about writing on the market today is the way Rember engages his readers in some of the issues every writer faces--writing about place, about family, about grief--not as problems to be overcome but as issues to be understood." --Jeff Baker, Book Editor, The (Portland) Oregonian, January 3, 2011
"Witty, audacious, and wise, John Rember's MFA in a Box is a unique and valuable book that addresses the subject--and the life experience--of Creative Writing from both a practical perspective and in a manner so highly personable you'll read it like a memoir--and want to meet the author. Rember has the storyteller's magic. You'll be enthralled. And walk away a more astute and vibrant writer." --Robin Metz, author of Unbidden Angel, winner of the Rainer Maria Rilke International Poetry Award, and Director of the Program in Creative Writing at Knox College, January 1, 2011
"John Rember's MFA in a Box should be on every writer's bookshelf, right next to On Writing by Stephen King and other great books on the art and craft of creative writing." -- Randy Richardson, President, Chicago Writers Association -- (chicagowrites.org), January 2011
Nautilus Book Awards, Silver Winner - Writing/Creative Process Category --Nautilus Book Awards, May 14, 2011
Eric Hoffer Book Award Grand Prize Short List, and 1st Runner Up - Reference Category --Eric Hoffer Award, May 12, 2011
Midwest Book Awards, Finalist - Reference Category --Midwest Independent Publishers Association, May 12, 2011
Not your typical writing book, this excursion into the mind of a writer is more entertaining as a personal memoir than an instruction book. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Mcbruce56
This is an interesting book, designed more to encourage writers than to give them practical ideas or exercises. The numerous personal narratives by the author are worth reading.Published 15 months ago by E. Allen
I kept waiting for this book to deliver on its subtitle, but I don't feel that it did. There were some solid and entertaining passages interspersed throughout the book, and the... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Peter C
John Rember has done a fantastic job imparting his significant expertise on writing. It makes one wish he/she could sit in a classroom and hear Dr. Rember first-hand. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Deanna S.
Not do much about how to write, but more about why not write? Examples do stimulate ideas and there is a rationale for how to direct one's efforts that recurs throughout.Published on June 5, 2013 by Lambert McLaurin
I am interested in reading what will aspire me to write better...I am only a few pages into this book, but can already tell that this one is a winner!Published on May 22, 2013 by D. Ceroni
The book is well written. It should be, as it is written by someone who teaches writing. If it wasn't, it wouldn't be much of a confirmation of his teaching. Read morePublished on March 9, 2013 by M. Mangano
After reading this inspirational Non-how-to-write-a book, I do!
Packed solid with observations and guidence, but not technology, this book was a joy to read. Read more
This book, suggested to me by a fellow writer, just may go down as one of my favorite books of this year. Read morePublished on November 28, 2012 by Robin Cain