The twelve stories in The Prisoner Pear: Stories from the Lake take place in an affluent suburb of Portland, Oregon, but they could be taken from any number of similar enclaves across the United States. These stories infuse stark reality with occasional hints of magical realism to explore what the American dream means to twenty-first-century suburbanites. In a city where the homecoming queen still makes the front page of the weekly newspaper, ducks caught in storm drains and stolen campaign signs make up the bulk of the paper’s crime reports. The community’s hidden complexities, however, rival those of Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio.
Each of the stories begins with an entry from the newspaper’s police blotter. Elissa Minor Rust fills in the background to these small, odd events-a headless parakeet found in a mailbox, a nude jogger, an alarmingly deathlike discarded teddy bear. Her stories, both humorous and disturbing, probe beneath the clear, hard surface of a community into the murky depths beneath.
The lake at the center of town is a constant in the lives of this town’s people, and it reappears throughout the book as a symbol of wealth and power, of love and loss. The Prisoner Pear offers a rare look inside the heart of suburban America. Reading these stories is, as one character observes, “like seeing the town from the inside out, as if the lake was its heart and the rest merely its bones and skin.”