CORVALLIS, Ore. - Ohio State University Press/Swallow Press is publishing a collection of short stories by Oregon State University graduate Elissa Minor Rust titled "The Prisoner Pear: Stories From the Lake."

Rust will give a reading from the book, which is being released in early December, at Powell's Bookstore, 1005 W. Burnside, Portland, on Jan. 13. The time for the reading has not been set but will be available at by Jan. 1.

The 12 stories in "The Prisoner Pear" take place in an affluent suburb of Portland but could reflect similar circumstances in communities across the United States. The stories infuse stark reality with hints of magical realism to explore what the American Dream means to 21st-century suburbanites.

Each story begins with an entry from the local newspaper's police blotter. Rust invents the background to weird events such as the case of a nude jogger or a headless parakeet found in a mailbox. The stories use these cases as springboards to probe the depths beneath the surface of the community.

The lake at the center of town is a constant in the lives of the residents, and it appears throughout the book as a symbol of wealth and power, love and loss. Publishers Weekly called "The Prisoner Pear" a "fine portrait of privileged lives, in all their mundanity and weirdness." Kirkus Reviews called it an "intriguing, nicely polished debut collection."

Rust received her B.A. in English from Oregon State University in 1997 and an M.A. in creative writing from Arizona State University. Her stories have appeared in publications such as Baltimore Review, Beacon Street Review, and Orchid: A Literary Review. Rust lives in Lake Oswego, Ore.

Marjorie Sandor, associate professor of English at OSU, said, "We are all so proud of Elissa, whose extraordinary writing talent first showed itself in a required introductory literature course-she was, if I remember rightly, a freshman math and music major. There's no greater thrill for a writing teacher than to watch the progress of a gifted student as she comes into her own as a literary artist, and is rewarded by publication and terrific reviews. It's truly a moment of celebration around here."

Click photos to see a full-size version. Right click and save image to download.


Tracy Daugherty, 541-737-1657