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The Pear Shaped Man

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He lives in the darkness beneath the stairs, in the apartment closet to the garbage cans. He eats CheezDoodles. He tells Jesse he has things to show her...

Kindle Edition

First published January 1, 1991

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About the author

George R.R. Martin

1,335 books107k followers
George Raymond Richard "R.R." Martin was born September 20, 1948, in Bayonne, New Jersey. His father was Raymond Collins Martin, a longshoreman, and his mother was Margaret Brady Martin. He has two sisters, Darleen Martin Lapinski and Janet Martin Patten.

Martin attended Mary Jane Donohoe School and Marist High School. He began writing very young, selling monster stories to other neighborhood children for pennies, dramatic readings included. Later he became a comic book fan and collector in high school, and began to write fiction for comic fanzines (amateur fan magazines). Martin's first professional sale was made in 1970 at age 21: The Hero, sold to Galaxy, published in February, 1971 issue. Other sales followed.

In 1970 Martin received a B.S. in Journalism from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, graduating summa cum laude. He went on to complete a M.S. in Journalism in 1971, also from Northwestern.

As a conscientious objector, Martin did alternative service 1972-1974 with VISTA, attached to Cook County Legal Assistance Foundation. He also directed chess tournaments for the Continental Chess Association from 1973-1976, and was a Journalism instructor at Clarke College, Dubuque, Iowa, from 1976-1978. He wrote part-time throughout the 1970s while working as a VISTA Volunteer, chess director, and teacher.

In 1975 he married Gale Burnick. They divorced in 1979, with no children. Martin became a full-time writer in 1979. He was writer-in-residence at Clarke College from 1978-79.

Moving on to Hollywood, Martin signed on as a story editor for Twilight Zone at CBS Television in 1986. In 1987 Martin became an Executive Story Consultant for Beauty and the Beast at CBS. In 1988 he became a Producer for Beauty and the Beast, then in 1989 moved up to Co-Supervising Producer. He was Executive Producer for Doorways, a pilot which he wrote for Columbia Pictures Television, which was filmed during 1992-93.

Martin's present home is Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is a member of Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (he was South-Central Regional Director 1977-1979, and Vice President 1996-1998), and of Writers' Guild of America, West.


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5 stars
82 (23%)
4 stars
140 (39%)
3 stars
107 (30%)
2 stars
17 (4%)
1 star
5 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 46 reviews
Profile Image for Michelle F.
232 reviews68 followers
March 29, 2022
Full marks for the creep factor. Eeeeeugh.

The unease conveyed in this short story is very relatable. Like the blurb says, and even with the actual physicality set aside, I feel like many of us have a Pear-Shaped Person (or two) in our lives; the one whose intentions and attentions are vaguely strange and uncomfortable; the one whose communications and habits are so very different from our own that interactions are awkward and confusing; the one who carries an underlying sense of menace...The sort of person that you can't seem to stop bumping into, even though you eventually start trying to actively avoid them.

This disturbing little story captures the dread of that really well. Powerful in its buildup, I admit that I don't feel like Martin nailed the ending at all, but the sense of familiarity and fear are top-notch.

This may be the story that got my little Skype group going on the Martin collection. I don't think it was part of our group-read, but we had each read it at some point or other and it got us chatting. It's an interesting one to discuss
Profile Image for Robin Hobb.
Author 341 books97.5k followers
February 26, 2013
This was my introduction to the writing of George RR Martin. I bought the Pulphouse chapbook at a Norwescon many years ago, when it first came out. This is a chiseled gem of a story, one that made me immediately go out in search of books by George RR Martin. Creepy and completely unique.The Pear Shaped Man
Profile Image for Pedro António.
34 reviews5 followers
January 13, 2013
This was definitely one of the creepiest stories I've ever read. George R. R. Martin does creepy incredibly well and I felt uneasy from start to end. The plot gets progressively more nauseating until the twist at the very end, which I found absolutely hilarious and definitely did not see coming.

As a whole I quite liked it and feel like I got my hour's worth of enjoyment. I'm also never going to eat cheetos again and no, I do NOT want your things.
Profile Image for Traveller.
228 reviews714 followers
November 30, 2021
Disturbometer 7 out of 10.

Another one of the titles on my “most disturbing short story list”

This time the story is from George RR Martin, the guy that wrote Game of Thrones. At this point in my list, most of the stories had come from earlier than the 1960’s. (That is, with the exception of the Vonnegut and of the Ligotti. But for me Ligotti’s prose feels stiff and stilted and the Vonnegut story was sort of dramatic surrealism).
So when I started reading Martin’s story, I was immediately struck by how modern and natural his prose and his characters felt, and to my surprise, it was actually a relief after the stilted and old-fashioned stuffiness of people who wrote stories long ago. (I’d just finished two volumes of Shirley Jackson stories to boot.)

So even though the story starts off with a fairly mundane scenario, I was kind of enjoying myself. Not for long, though. There was a fly in the “we’ve happily moved to a new apartment” ointment. There was a booger in the nose of the story, that just wouldn’t go away, like one of those zits that just get worse when you try to squish them into extinction. It was The Pear-shaped Man.

He was like the dog-crap that you can’t get off your shoe. He was like the bubble-gum you sat on and can’t get off the seat of your pants. He was like an ear-worm of the crappiest song you’d ever heard. He was the floater in the toilet that refused to go down. He was like the fly on Mike Pence’s head. He was like the mosquito that had crept through the mosquito net. He was like that ex who keeps trying to hook up with you again. He was that ink on your fingers that just won’t wash off. He was the spam that keeps coming even after you’ve blocked both the mail and the domain. He was the smell of the garlic that you’d eaten too much of the night before. He was like loud noises in the plumbing when you’re trying to sleep, or the neighbor playing Heavy Metal on full volume at 4 AM in the morning when you have a presentation to give. He was like rats in the roof, like cockroaches under the sink. He was like tinnitus and like indigestion. He was like ants in your sugar, like sleet in the street. He was the loud static on a phone call. He was like a cheese curl that you find in your clean underpants/panties. He was like the persistent smell of vomit after that drunk friend you were so kind to give a lift to, barffed in your car. He was like a scream in the brakes of your car that progresses to a scream in the back of your head. Have you finally got it, dear readers, what The Pear-shaped Man was like?

Only, that’s not all he was. Nooooooo-no-no-no. He was something far worse. But you’d have to read the story to truly know how The Pear-shaped Man is.

All I’ll say further on the matter, is that I felt ill for a while after finishing the story, and that I will never look at cheese curls the same way again; they will always remind me of The Pear-shaped Man. Also, the story did have a Lovecraftian feel to it at the end, but at least those writers from long ago were subtle…
Profile Image for Harshad Sharma.
43 reviews21 followers
October 15, 2016
One hell of a creepy story, i came to know about this in a GRRM interview where he was recollecting how when he came home form an award ceremony where he was awarded the best horror story for this and showed his mom the award with the inscription, "George R.R Martin","The Pear Shaped Man" the only thing his mother said was, that is a very rude thing to say about someone.

The interview was hilarious, his mother's story was hilarious, THIS STORY IS NOT. You will get the creeps for a week after reading this. A very short read but it will remain with you for a long long time.
Profile Image for Aurora.
40 reviews
July 7, 2020
The best horrors have some measure of reality I think. George does this well. Don and Angela didn't take her concerns seriously. Like sure, the man did nothing illegal, but since when did something have to be illegal for it to be wrong? Don seriously gaslighted her too. I was genuinely feeling horrified while reading this at how real most of it was. Of course there's an element of the supernatural, however women get stalked in reality all too commonly. Gaslighting is also sadly all too common. "No, you're overreacting, it's all in your head." Unfortunately only when something horrible happens then you're believed. Except in Jessie's case, nobody knew that she was right. Nobody knew that something horrible happened to her.

I think George really captured the horrors of being unsettled by a man and having your concerns be framed as paranoia. Or worse, obsession. Don infuriated me and yet made me appreciate George's writing all the more. Because Donald is a typical person (esp. typical of a man) who thinks that everything is in her head. And oh the poor man is just a sad sap with no social skills and you're horrible for judging him you bad woman! George managed to captured that dread very well. The anger that comes from having people tell you that you're crazy in essence. She was being stalked by this man and nobody took her seriously.
And part of the horror comes from how normal this is. Jessie could be any woman. In fact, George himself in the story says that everyone knows a pear shaped man. Angela stated she could have met him on a date. He's a common man. Which adds to the element of horror. In fact, it's telling that it's women that he goes after to the point that in the end, he would know a woman who was different when he saw her. And he would go after her of course, the way the previous one went after Jessie.

Throughout the story, I kept thinking of how he had some of the hallmarks of a serial killer.
Also, despite the fact that it is something supernatural, the ending felt very much like a metaphor for rape.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Siobhan.
4,490 reviews468 followers
March 28, 2022
The Pear-Shaped Man was another of George R.R. Martin’s short stories that can be labelled as horror. As with other stories labelled as such from the author, this was not a terrifying read but it was a creepy read. It is one of those subtly unsettling reads that leaves you eager to see how everything comes together, desperately turning the pages to see what the creepy ending will be.

All in all, another enjoyable creepy read from George R.R. Martin.
Profile Image for Teresa.
197 reviews14 followers
June 7, 2013
For those of you who associate George R.R. Martin solely to 'A Song of Ice and Fire', I have one thing to tell you: read this story. It's a quick read and it will leave you with your mouth wide open, your mind blown, goosebumps all over your skin, and a sickening feeling in your stomach. Props to you if you read this at night when the house is quiet.
4 reviews2 followers
July 10, 2014
Creepy and occasionally funny story about a beautiful illustrator living with a downstairs neighbor who has wet lips and a thing for Cheez Doodles. Visceral, gross, well told.
Profile Image for Kitty Red-Eye.
627 reviews37 followers
February 19, 2016
Eeeeek! Eeeew! I'm creeped out just the way it was intended. Hilariously disgusting stalker neighbour monster, well done :) - could be a Twilight Zone episode. One of the good ones.

Some compare the Pear-Shaped Man to The Three-Eyed Crow aka Bloodraven. Will be exciting to see if the CotF and Bloodraven are more villains than not, in the end. Would make for a cool twist for sure.
Profile Image for Mariel.
11 reviews7 followers
December 10, 2020
It was a decent read- but I wouldn't recommend it as your first step into George R.R. Martin's short stories... you'll be disappointed if you do.

If you've ever watched Star Trek - TNG, the main character will remind you of a Pakled- I'll leave it at that.

Profile Image for Daken Howlett.
489 reviews15 followers
July 27, 2015
Classico racconto horror che riesce a creare un'atmosfera opprimente e disturbante partendo da pochi dettagli apparentemente fuori posto in un contesto quotidiano comune e banale,creando un crescendo che porta a chiedersi se non sia tutto frutto della mente malata e prevenuta della protagonista,prima del colpo di scena che chiude degnamente la vicenda.
Profile Image for Joe Williams.
3 reviews
January 23, 2018
This is one of the creepiest, most bizarre stories that I've ever read. And regardless of your views on ASOIAF series, there is no denying that George R.R. Martin is a great writer and damn entertaining fella. Take an afternoon and treat yourself to this weird, little gem.
Profile Image for Jessica.
144 reviews14 followers
August 2, 2017
Hilarious, creepy, accurate. I read this in an empty library at around 11 pm and suggest you find a similarly eerie location to enjoy this story. Really bumped it from a 4 to a 5.
Profile Image for Sol.
781 reviews27 followers
July 18, 2020
El primer cuento que leí de la antología de terror del mismo autor, con un estilo que favorece la psicosis, con una protagonista temerosa de este extraño hombre que la observa constántemente.
Y con un final que te deja igual de boquiabierta que los otros de la misma colección.
No fue de mis favoritos, aunque sí que llegué a tener una cierta compasión por la protagonista porque siendo mujer me ha pasado de sentirme observada e, incluso, perseguida, sin que nadie prestara atención al hecho.
Aunque estoy agradecida de que nunca me haya llegado el final tan horripilante que le aconteció a la pobre muchacha.

Por lo que sí, un cuento sobre el horror y las cosas asquerosas, el morbo y el terror, que se puede leer en menos de unas cuantas horas.
Profile Image for Maureen .
1,379 reviews7,089 followers
April 2, 2023
*3.5 stars*

When Jessie and Angela move into a new apartment, they become aware of the man in the basement - a pear shaped man. He looks a bit creepy but they’re too busy to pay him much attention initially. However, as the days pass, he more than lives up to his creepy persona, especially for Jessie!
An unsettling experience that left me with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.
You can read it here https://www.williamflew.com/omni109a....
431 reviews5 followers
April 20, 2023
Грушеподобный человек живёт в полуподвальном этаже. Даже хозяин здания не знает, что это за фрукт, но особо не интересуется, потому что оплата вносится регулярно - что ещё нужно? Новая жилица помешалась на этом неуклюжем, нездоровом и, кажется, умственно отсталом гаргантюа. Друзья рекомендуют не убегать от своих страхов, а встретиться с ними лицом к лицу.
3 reviews
May 13, 2023
I originally read this in Omni in the 80s when I was around 18 yrs old. I could not believe such literature existed. I was horrified and captivated. I forget about most of the short stories I read, and forget the names of pretty much everything, but I still remember that story and its title to this day.
Profile Image for Jon.
116 reviews7 followers
September 9, 2017
Listened to the audio-book of this today that happens to be available on youtube. Great way to start off my Halloween reads!
Profile Image for Vessy.
41 reviews16 followers
October 31, 2017
Very disturbing and quite disgusting. It's a short story but I read it in parts partly because I was grossed out at where this was going. I'm really not sure if I enjoyed it but it's well written
Displaying 1 - 30 of 46 reviews

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