Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Writing for soul searching

Community Library hosts John Rember talk series


By SABINA DANA PLASSE
Express Staff Writer

A series of lectures by acclaimed Sawtooth Valley author John Rember, entitled "Writing to Save Your Life in a Postmodern, Post-Literate and Post-Publishing World," will include meditations on writing that are as unique as the writer himself.

In his attempt to define his relationship with writing and the world around him, Rember will offer his personal insight and observations on both reading and writing. Through his wry and very witty sense of humor, as well as discerning remarks, this respected scribe delivers truths and misgivings about writing that are well worth your time, especially if you write.

Rember is perhaps one of the very few who can say that he was born in Sun Valley when the hospital inhabited a wing on the third floor of the Sun Valley Lodge. He is a fourth-generation Idahoan, a distinction that is not only reflected in his writing but an integral part of his existence. His award winning memoir, "Traplines: Coming Home to Sawtooth Valley," has distinguished him as an important writer of the West but more significantly as a voice in a region that is rapidly changing.

As a child growing up in the valley he spent a great deal of time at The Community Library in Ketchum. Rember attended school in Ketchum, and his home away from home was the library when it was located where The Gold Mine thrift store is today.

At the end of the school day at 3 p.m., Rember would make his way to the library to read.

"I read like crazy from first grade on," he said. "The librarian, Lucille Connelly, would ask me if I was sure my parents would want me to read books like 'The World of Suzy Wong.' It was a book about a prostitute, and I was in the fifth grade."

This lecture series is Rember's in-kind gratitude for the support he has been given by the community and the library.

He began his series on the opening night of the Hemingway festival, and that also happened to be the same evening his Harvard classmate, Christopher Durang, had an opening of his play, "Laughing Wild," just down the street at the nexStage Theatre.

With all the competition for events, it was only fitting that Rember discussed how is easy it is to be disheartened about writing. He pointed out that there are so many talented writers out there, but they are all discouraged.

"Writing is one of those things that moves you deeper into life," said Rember. "If your life does not have meaning, you are not living."

Rember described a dream he had about finding Hemingway drowned in a river and continued to discuss a zombie Hemingway wondering if he should have learned to play guitar. He could have started a punk rock band called "The Dead Hemingways," and the band could whip out fly rods into the audience.

All joking aside, the real reason for this semi-nightmare was a fear of writing and the harsh reality that one always has the ability to put out more work no matter their existence.

Although he was in no way connected to the Hemingway festival, his meditation on Hemingway was inspiring, bewildering and very entertaining. Rember referred to the critique of one's writing similar to entering Hades and abandoning all hope.

"Writing is good and healthy and it does not have to be published for it to feel this way," said Rember. "If you are a writer, you have the potential to feed some starving souls out there, and our culture is full of starving souls."

Rember discussed how it's tough to manage two worlds as a professor and published author admitting that some do it much better than he at putting out books every year. Nonetheless, he manages to be a core faculty member of the Pacific University MFA program in Forest Grove, Ore., a writer-at-large for Albertson College of Idaho in Caldwell and a contributor of numerous articles to magazines and newspapers while working on his next book.

Free and open to the public, part two of four in Rember's talk series will be held the Community Library on Thursday, Oct. 26, at 6 p.m. For more information, call 726-3493.




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