Tough Questions

John Rember Confronts Increasing Disorder

By Les Tanner

Several years ago, I attended Fishtrap, a week-long gathering of writers that was held at Oregon’s Wallowa Lake State Park. During a break between sessions, I struck up a conversation with author Laura Lee, one of the event’s presenters.

“Is this your first Fishtrap?” she asked.

“It is, and I’m glad I came. I was convinced to give it a try by my colleague and writing teacher, John Rember.”

“You couldn’t have chosen a better person to work with if you want to be a writer,” she told me. “The first time I met John was at a conference like this. When he read ‘Idaho Man’ to the group, he just blew us away!”

“Idaho Man” is one of eleven short stories in John’s book, Cheerleaders from Gomorrah: Tales from the Lycra Archipelago (Confluence Press, 1994). In it, as the result of a talk given by a retired professor of paleontology to the Rotary Club in the fictional Ammoniah Falls, Idaho, the local mortician becomes a fossil hound. One day, he turns up with some human teeth that he believes to be fossils. He convinces the prof to follow him to the location of the find. The teeth turn out to be true fossils, but . . .

The ending is a surprise, a necessity for me to like a story. It not only is a well-written piece of fiction but includes interesting speculation regarding the impact of such a find. There is a message in everything John writes.

In the spring of 1995, when I was sixty-one, I enrolled in the first of several writing classes that were taught by John, then a member of the English Department at The College of Idaho, where I was on the faculty of the Mathematics Department. If it weren’t for him, I might well have not had the enjoyment of the writing that has been a big part of my life for the past twenty-six years.

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