Some of the Reviews of The Prisoner Pear: Stories From the Lake

From The New York Times

Set in the swanky Portland suburb of Lake Oswego, Ore., the 12 stories in Rust’s debut collection evoke a world of material privilege and emotional bankruptcy. Each story begins with a fairly innocuous item taken from the local newspaper’s police blotter: a dead bird found in a mailbox, a naked man running in the park, a vicious cat, an “unknown hairy thing” stuffed in a garbage can. These cryptic, sometimes bizarre little items provide a fitting point of departure for Rust’s fertile imagination. Forget about borrowing a cup of sugar from the neighbors; ever wonder what might happen if an infertile couple asked for some sperm? If a woman walked out on her husband and their 2-year-old daughter but took the dog? Eating disorders, divorce, cancer, class envy, postpartum depression, suburban anomie, Volvos with seat warmers: they’re all here in lovely, privileged, unsettling Lake Oswego.

From Publishers Weekly

In 12 efficient, accomplished stories inspired by snippets from the Lake Oswego, Ore., police blotter, Rust takes a magnifying glass to affluent suburban life in the Pacific Northwest. In the title story, a young UPS manager looks for signs that he should propose to his rich girlfriend while battling a case of cold feet and class anxiety. A blotter item about two high school girls thought to be prostitutes (in fact, they’re just standing on a corner, waiting for a cab) blossoms into a perceptive and moving story about best friends united—and ultimately divided—by their severe eating disorders. Economics drive a young father to enroll himself in risky medical experiments in “Rich Girls”; in “Of All the Insatiable Human Urges,” a 36-year-old woman discovers she’s pregnant shortly after learning that her 49-year-old husband is dying of prostate cancer; and in “Moon over Water,” an unnatural sequence of full moons wreaks havoc in the Portland area. Solid, believable characters rendered in careful, deliberate prose move against a convincing landscape of lakeside cottages and sprawling McMansions, grocery store aisles and shopping malls, bedrooms and doctors’ offices. This is a fine portrait of privileged lives, in all their mundanity and weirdness. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Imagination takes flight in these 12 stories set in Lake Oswego, an affluent suburb of Portland, Oregon. Rust begins each story with a snippet from the local newspaper’s police blotter, from which spins a tale–sometimes edging on the surreal. A report of food thrown at a garage door spawns “Vital Organs,” in which a woman’s kidneys simply disappear, affecting her only with profound sadness; media attention disturbs her neighbors, and canned kidney beans are thrown at her garage door before she finds that her body emptied for a reason. In “Rich Girls,” a report of a fire started in the high-school boys’ bathroom is embedded in the tale of a man who takes part in increasingly intrusive medical research studies to get extra money for his wife and daughters. A report of a vicious cat near a resident’s back porch starts “Moon over Water,” in which the full moon becomes frozen over Portland (and nowhere else), leading to fertile animals, fast-growing plants, and obese people. Rust’s prose is crisp and precise. Michele Leber
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved