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MFA in a Box
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MFA in a Box

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  70 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
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.

“A big part of writing involves grappling with the terrors and discouragements that co

Paperback, 274 pages
Published January 1st 2011 by Dream of Things Media
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Lynn Demarest
Sep 14, 2012 Lynn Demarest rated it really liked it
"MFA in a Box" is a beautifully written book not so much about the mechanics as the psychology of fiction writing. The author, a beloved professor of creative writing in the northwest, argues that the best authors endeavor like Buddhas to dive into awful truths everyday people wanting to maintain their sanity naturally avoid.

Rember echoes the advice of my old writing teacher, the deceased Harry Crews, when he implors aspiring novelists to be so honest their mother (and everyone else) despises th
Andrea Paterson
Aug 28, 2012 Andrea Paterson rated it it was amazing
If ever there was a solid argument for why writers need to continue on with their craft, even in the face of a general disavowal of its importance, this is it. While it claims to be a "why" to write book there is plenty of "how" in here as well. The concepts presented about writing and living a creative life are not easy, and I have to admit that I did not grasp everything in this book on the first read through. I hope to have time for more reads in the future. But the depth of this book is what ...more
Leo Robertson
Apr 16, 2014 Leo Robertson rated it liked it
If Adam West was an MFA professor...
Didn't connect to the long rambling stories laid out in each chapter, but the lists of rules at the end were not bad.
Also, apparently does not supplant an MFA.
Oct 18, 2012 TC rated it it was ok
This is pretty much what I'd expect an MFA to be: a bloviating gassbag of a baby boomer, still fighting against The War and ranting about how evil Robert McNamara is and whatnot, rambling at length about the emptiness of "modern society" because it "isolates us from suffering" and how it's the job of a writer to take all those readers down into Hades to face their misery. He conveys this with winding anecdotes that are his life's reminisces: some are self-effacing and mildly humorous; but none a ...more
Randy Richardson
Jul 12, 2012 Randy Richardson rated it it was amazing
"MFA in a Box" is the best book on writing I've read since Stephen King's "On Writing." It should be on every writer's bookshelf.
Apr 08, 2011 Robert rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recommended
John Rember is unafraid to stare down life's big questions, but does so always with a twinkle in the eye. Like the fool in King Lear's court, he will rap you on the noggin with a truth so sweet it hurts. If you don't close his book somehow transformed, you may well be un-transformable.

Rember's "why to write" book is a memoir of the creative heart and mind in conflict with itself, which is to say a universal struggle that any artist will recognize. More than this, he emerges triumphant over big i
Geoffrey Waring
Jun 11, 2014 Geoffrey Waring rated it it was amazing
This book really surprised me. Not really anything to do with an MFA at all, it is a perpetually strange little book, part memoir, part philosophical inquiry, part writing advice. Its subtitle-- "a why to write book" -- is pretty apt, as it explores the philosophical reasons for writing at all, for writing and thinking and engaging with the world more deeply, drawing freely on the author's life and thoughts. This is seriously one of the best books on writing I've ever read, but don't expect care ...more
Michael Smith
Dec 08, 2012 Michael Smith rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Frankly, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the book. This is likely because the author spent most of his time writing well crafted little memoir pieces that imaginatively supported the obligatory "rules for writing" lists in each chapter. Whatever with rules for writing (as Rember himself surely would say); the point is Rember's prose. Much enjoyed.
Oct 14, 2011 Barbara rated it really liked it
Yes, think. I do not usually read to make me think but this one encourage some study. Which is good for us. Gave me many books to look into for future reading.
Amber B.
Nov 29, 2011 Amber B. rated it really liked it
Excellent. This book is a pleasure to read whether or not you are interested in doing writing of your own.
Heather Shaw
Aug 03, 2012 Heather Shaw rated it really liked it
This book changed how I write and how I think about writing. And his images are still swimming around in my head, weeks later. Planning to re-read, and soon.
Aug 22, 2011 Sharon rated it really liked it
Here is my review, on my blog, Walking on the Highway:
Alia Luria
Sep 02, 2013 Alia Luria rated it it was amazing
I have been making my way slowly through John Rember’s MFA in a Box and finally finished it today. I find his voice, which I suspect is the same voice he adapts when holding workshops for his students, to be witty and engaging. I even picked up his recent short story collection Sudden Death, Over Time before I had even finished MFA in a Box. As usual, my “to read” list is packed to the gills, and I I haven’t yet had the chance to crack it yet. When I first started reading MFA in a Box, I found t ...more
Jun 27, 2016 Janet rated it it was amazing
You've read all the writing books you're supposed to. You've followed the plotting script to the letter. But something is still missing from your story, and you know it. John Rember's memoir-as-teaching aid will probably come off more as therapy than technique class, and that's my guess what he was going for in the first place. MFA in a Box will help you unclog your creative drains and get to depths you were afraid of going to before, and touch subject matter you have been hiding away in dusty b ...more
Mike O'Mary
Sep 06, 2011 Mike O'Mary rated it it was amazing
Shelves: creative-writing
This is a "must-have" book on creative writing. MFA in a Box is a thought-provoking and entertaining discussion of creative writing and what it means to be a writer. It's not intended to take the place of an MFA in creative writing, but whether you have an MFA or not, this book will make you a better writer.
Feb 27, 2016 Meegan rated it it was ok
Shelves: discard
For the record, I had to read this for an Advanced Creative Writing class. If I didn't depend upon reading this for a grade, I would have skipped it. Rember is all over the place. Literally. This book was practically a biography with a few lines about writing thrown in. I'm sorry for those of you who like Rember, but I do not.
Ashleigh Cronshaw
May 17, 2013 Ashleigh Cronshaw rated it it was ok
I liked learning on different authors and books that I should read. That's about all I got out if this. And don't use metaphors. He said that enough times. In all I was disappointed with this book and expected a lot more. It seemed more like him rambling about his life than trying to inform people on why they should write like this book was supposed to do
Anne White
Challenging and sometimes dark and uncomfortable, especially the chapter about Gilgamesh and goddesses. But otherwise...though it took forever to finally get it finished (between other books), it was worthwhile, especially if you want to write or read about the deeper places stories can take us. Or maybe the higher places: I finished reading the Kindle edition at 10,000 feet in the air.
John Brooke
John Brooke rated it it was amazing
Nov 25, 2012
M rated it it was amazing
Aug 06, 2014
Delia O' Riordan
Delia O' Riordan rated it liked it
Sep 19, 2011
Rasmenia Massoud
Rasmenia Massoud rated it it was ok
Feb 11, 2013
Justinabradley rated it it was amazing
May 27, 2014
Heather rated it it was ok
Apr 26, 2012
Amanda rated it it was amazing
Oct 10, 2014
Thomas Kenton
Thomas Kenton rated it liked it
Jan 28, 2013
Kathleen rated it it was amazing
Sep 08, 2011
James Elwood
James Elwood rated it liked it
Jan 14, 2015
Kimberly rated it it was ok
Jan 16, 2016
Diana rated it liked it
Oct 05, 2011
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John Rember is a fourth-generation Idahoan. Recurring themes in his writing include the meaning of place, the impact of tourism on the West, and the weirdness of everyday life.

His books include the memoir Traplines: Coming Home to Sawtooth Valley (Vintage: 2004), and two collections of short stories, Cheerleaders from Gomorrah: Tales from the Lycra Archipelago (Confluence: 1994) and Coyote in the
More about John Rember...

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“MFA in a Box is designed to help you to find the courage to put truth into words and to understand that writing is a life-and-death endeavor — but that nothing about a life-and-death endeavor keeps it from being laugh-out-loud funny.” 4 likes
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