American Rust

American Rust

Paperback - 2010 | Spiegel & Grau trade pbk. ed
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Set in a beautiful but economically devastated Pennsylvania steel town, a lush landscape as deceptively promising as the edifices of the abandoned steel mills, "American Rust" is a novel of the lost American dream and the desperation that arises in its absence. Left alone to care for his aging father after his mother commits suicide and his sister escapes to Yale, Isaac English longs for a life beyond his hometown. But when he finally sets out to leave for good, accompanied by his temperamental best friend, former high school football star Billy Poe, they are caught up in a terrible act of violence that changes their lives forever.
Publisher: New York :, Spiegel & Grau,, 2010
Edition: Spiegel & Grau trade pbk. ed
Copyright Date: ©2009
ISBN: 9780385527521
Branch Call Number: FIC MEY
Characteristics: 382 pages ; 25 cm


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Jul 07, 2017

I have done many things that make me feel at one with the universe. I do yoga and danced with Jerry G. I have run a marathon and wept in the Musee d'Orsay day after day staring into heaven's masterpieces. On my first trip to de efe in the seventh grade I saw what real poverty looked like and could not abide our excess. I gave every penny away on the first day to mothers sitting on cathedral steps with dirty, scared, hungry children at their feet. And mere words cannot describe the magic I feel when my fingers hit the dirt in my organic heirloom micro farm either. I'm lost in another world like when I was sitting backwards in a station wagon circa '77 reading Tolkien for the first time. Time turns elastic like it does when I'm reading a Philipp Meyer novel so my words cannot do it justice. Just read it.

Jul 20, 2015

A welcome respite from the flood of novels about self-absorbed middle-class people, this book tells the story of a working class community in the American Rust Belt in a period described by the author as American "downward trending". Despite economic hardship, and told in an unsentimental way, these people have worth, values and solidarity and are true working class heroes. Recommended.

Apr 17, 2015

An interesting career before writing this super debut novel published in 2009; his only other published book so far is The Son in 2013. We need more young writers like him:

It was the same "American Rust" that Obama spoke of during his 2008 election campaign: "You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they ..."

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Apr 17, 2015

You ought to be able to grow up in a place and not have to get the hell out of it when you turn eighteen.

It was like this all up and down the river and many of the young people, the way they accepted their lack of prospects, it was like watching sparks die in the night...He didn't see how the country could survive like this in the long run; a stable society required stable jobs, there wasn't anything more to it than that.

There was something particularly American about it--blaming yourself for bad luck--that resistance to seeing your life as affected by social forces, a tendency to attribute larger problems to individual behavior. The ugly reverse of the American Dream.

Apr 17, 2015

Farther along she couldn't help noticing the old coal chute stretching the length of the hillside, passing high over the road on its steel supports, the sky visible through its rusted floor; the iron suspension bridge crossing the river. It was sealed at both ends, its entire structure similarly penetrated and pocked by rust. Then it seemed there was a rash of abandoned structures, an enormous steel- sided factory painted powder blue, its smokestacks stained with the ubiquitous red- brown streaks, its gate chained shut for how many years, it had never been open in her lifetime. In the end it was rust. That was what defined this place. A brilliant observation. She was probably about the ten millionth person to think it.

Apr 17, 2015

it was a quaint town: neat rows of white houses wrapping the hillside, church steeples and cobblestone streets, the tall silver domes of an Orthodox cathedral. A place that had recently been well- off, its downtown full of historic stone buildings, mostly boarded now. On certain blocks there was still a pretense of keeping the trash picked up, but others had been abandoned completely. Buell, Fayette County, Pennsylvania. Fayette- nam, as it was often called.
Poe and Isaac, so far apart—Poe because of his talent for everything physical, Isaac because of his mind. The truth was they were both the best at what they did in that school. It was a special sort of small- town bitterness that must have thrived on seeing them both fail.

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