The Judges of the Hoffer Awards on MFA in a Box (May 2011): The essential truths about excellent writing are brought under consideration partly through the use of familiar fables and fairy tales. Another part is illustrated by the author’s own life experiences. Rember cleverly makes the reader dig into her own unconscious wisdom to recognize the true jewel at the center of a story. This book is not filled with rules and dogma to guide the writing process. Instead, an understanding of our relationship to our place on earth, acknowledging that our civilization is built on violence, and “how the big moments in life require a witness,” impel us to infuse our stories with truth.
“What makes [this book] 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 (Read the full review)
“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
“I started reading the book on the plane to a convention. Every chapter is an essay, one of those rich interconnected thought-weavings that we got to listen to as Pacific [University] students, with the addition of a top ten list at the end of each — valuable for focus and review, but also often funny. I found, reading on the plane, that when I was done with the first essay, I didn’t want to read the second. I wanted to write. So I dug out my carry-on and switched activities. On the plane ride home? Same thing. One essay, and then writing. Obviously, this is a rare writing book. I have read quite a few, and I don’t remember any of them making me want to write that moment like this does. The cover says it’s ‘a Why to Write Book,’ and the evidence says it’s convincing.” — Author Felicity Shoulders (Read the full review)
“If you are ready to plunge into the depths of your writer’s soul and uncover the secrets that you might be holding back, then MFA in a Box could change the whole way you think about the process of writing.” — Sharon Harrigan, Author, Poet, Journalist, Walking on the Highway, Dec. 2010 (Read the full review)
“John Rember’s 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.” – Randy Richardson, author of Lost in the Ivy, President of the Chicago Writers Association
“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.” — Gretchen Little, ”A Book Review and More,” Squidoo, October 2010 (Read the full review)
“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 see the purpose in the hard work of it.” –Rebecca Elgin