Born in Sun Valley, ID; father a trapper and fishing guide. Education: Harvard University, B.A.; University of Montana, M.F.A.
Office—Department of English, Albertson College of Idaho, 2112 Cleveland Blvd., Caldwell, ID 83605. E-mail—[email protected]
Albertson College of Idaho, Caldwell, ID, associate professor of English, 1993, and director of honors program. Worked as ski patrolman, park ranger, and backcountry guide.
(Coauthor) Water, Birth, the Planet Earth (screenplay), Dutcher Film Productions, 1984.
Coyote in the Mountains, Limberlost Press (Boise, ID), 1989.
Cheerleaders from Gomorrah: Tales from the Lycra Archipelago, Confluence Press (Lewiston, ID), 1994.
Memory Tricks: Memoirs of Place, Confluence Press (Lewston, ID), 2002.
Traplines: Coming Home to Sawtooth Valley, Pantheon Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Contributor of essays and short stories to periodicals, including Naturalist, Northern Lights, and Wildlife Conservation.
John Rember grew up in the rugged backcountry of the Pacific Northwest, and his memories and perceptions of the area have informed his fiction. His first book, Coyote in the Mountains, is a collection of stories that originally appeared in the Idaho Mountain Express. The tales, revised for publication in book form, reflect the Native American myth of Coyote, the trickster figure who always seems to survive. Yet in Rember's stories, Coyote is placed in the modern world, where magic is in short supply. The result, stated Scott Preston in Western American Literature, is "whimsical with some very dark edges (like Richard Brautigan at his best)."
Cheerleaders from Gomorrah: Tales from the Lycra Archipelago is another collection of short stories, focusing on the lives of middle-aged, athletic dropouts from society. Mostly childless, unable to commit to others, they spend their days skiing, hiking, riding horses, and climbing mountains. Yet their activities seem to bring them little peace. "According to Mr. Rember, the price of a life lived for one's body is a heavy dose of alienation," explained Tim Sandlin in the New York Times Book Review. He praised Cheerleaders from Gomorrah as an "exceptionally good book."
In Traplines: Coming Home to Sawtooth Valley, Rember turns from fiction to memoir. He recalls his youth in the Sawtooth Valley of Idaho during the 1950s, where he fished for the plentiful salmon and hunted the abundant wild game. He then left the area for many years, attending Harvard University and eventually becoming a university professor. During that time, the Sawtooth Valley was feeling the effects of human encroachment, especially development and the damming of rivers, resulting in catastrophe for the salmon. Efforts to correct the disruption of nature eventually included stocking fish in the river and declaring the wildlife in the area to be protected; nevertheless, when Rember returned there, he found the place strangely changed. It is an "engaging memoir," wrote Frank Sennett in Booklist, one that "brings to life the rugged recent past and squares it with the present in its troubling complexity." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly praised not only the subject matter but also the author's skill in telling his tale: "Rember writes sentences so elegantly crafted they seem effortless, tells stories so well turned readers will want to read them aloud."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, June 1, 2003, Frank Sennett, review of Traplines: Coming Home to Sawtooth Valley, p. 1729.
Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 1994, review of Cheerleaders from Gomorrah, p. 172; May 1, 2003, review of Traplines, p. 664. Library Journal, June 1, 2003, Janet Sassi, review of Traplines, p. 132.
New York Times Book Review, April 17, 1994, Tim Sandlin, review of Cheerleaders from Gomorrah, p. 13.
Publishers Weekly, May 26, 2003, review of Traplines, p. 62.
Western American Literature, winter, 1991, Scott Preston, review of Coyote in the Mountains, p. 368.