Reviews

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.)
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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
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