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American Rust by Philipp Meyer
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American Rust (original 2009; edition 2010)

by Philipp Meyer (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,21815011,291 (3.66)168
"Set in a beautiful but economically devastated Pennsylvania steel town, American Rust is a novel of the lost American dream and the desperation - as well as the acts of friendship, loyalty, and love - that arises from its loss. From local bars to trainyards to prison, it is the story of two young men, bound to the town by family, responsibility, inertia, and the beauty around them, who dream of a future beyond the factories and abandoned homes." "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.""Evoking John Steinbeck's novels of restless lives during the Great Depression, American Rust takes us into the contemporary American heartland at a moment of profound unrest and uncertainty about the future. It is a dark but lucid vision, a moving novel about the bleak realities that battle our desire for transcendence and of the power of love and friendship to redeem us."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)
Member:KevinEldon
Title:American Rust
Authors:Philipp Meyer (Author)
Info:Spiegel & Grau (2010), Paperback, 400 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:archive-office-07

Work details

American Rust by Philipp Meyer (2009)

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» See also 168 mentions

English (145)  Italian (2)  Dutch (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  French (1)  Piratical (1)  All languages (151)
Showing 1-5 of 145 (next | show all)
I didn't give this book much of a chance in 2015, however after taking a class about Working Class lives in fiction and music I may check it out with those lessons in mind. ( )
  nlmii | Jul 31, 2020 |
Decline in American steel industry is the background to the story of Isaac and Billy Poe. One slight and academic, the other big and athletic. Both stuck in a small town. A chance encounter with a tri of homeless men leads to murder and flight. No one is happy. All the lives are troubled or restricted by their circumstances. Definitely not the American Dream. Well written, but I enjoyed it less as the book unfolded.
  simbaandjessie | Aug 31, 2019 |
I finished reading 'American Rust' just before the talking heads starting talking about the 'rust belt' and talking and talking and talking.

There are places in America that have been forgotten, thousands of towns that have lost the industry that was once at their heart - mills and factories went dark and with that loss of jobs many towns floundered as shops closed and municipalities struggled to maintain infrastructure. Its a difficult situation. In this novel, Isaac English and Billy Poe are products of a failing town. Isaac has been trapped for four years taking care of his ailing father after his mother died and his sister escaped to college. Billy was a football star in high school and has failed to make anything of himself since.

Isaac decides to finally leave, Billy tags along, and everything that can go wrong goes wrong.

Billy's mother, the town sheriff, and Isaac's sister get involved in the narrative, adding their own tales of woe to an already bleak picture. Not that the novel shouldn't be bleak, but I felt it was missing something - Isaac's journey especially - that prevented it from being more than a frustrating series of events. Timely, but not my bag. ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 18, 2019 |
"Depressing" but I didn't find he characters fleshed out enough to find it super effective. Also (unrelated), the third book I've read this year that involves coal mining. ( )
  Abbey_Harlow | Oct 5, 2017 |
Story of decline in the American Steel Mill in Pennsylvannia and the the families still hanging on. It is a family story and a story of friendship and a story of love. This was Philipp Meyer's debut novel published in 2009. I found the story entertaining though brutal with violence and excessive sexual details I didn't need to enjoy the story. There is some foreshadowing so it is possible to guess the ending though I didn't fully. One reviewer called it a perfect storm of tradgedy. The characters are well crafted but I also felt that the choices made didn't make a lot of sense because, well just because. I don't want to give anything away. It was good, readable, it was called a best novel of 2009 and making some lists like Newsweek and Times, but it really never won any awards and other than being included on the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, it really has no other claim to fame.
Rating 3.43 ( )
1 vote Kristelh | Jul 15, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 145 (next | show all)
Do people still think in terms of the Great American Novel – a work of fiction that exactly captures the contemporary spirit of the union? If so, American Rust has GAN stamped all over it. In racing terms it’s by Of Mice and Men, out of Huckleberry Finn, ridden by Cormac McCarthy, and trained by Salinger and Kerouac.
added by Widsith | editThe Telegraph, Roger Perkins (May 24, 2009)
 
[T]he plot is captivating without ever straying into the realm of folksy page-turner. The political message may be obvious - "We're treading backwards as a nation, probably for the first time in history," Bud's boss tells him - but it's a compelling one none the less.
added by Widsith | editThe Observer, Mary Fitzgerald (May 24, 2009)
 
There are awkward moments in this novel […] but these are fleeting lapses, steamrollered by Mr. Meyer’s instinctive storytelling powers and his ability to create characters who evolve from familiar types into flesh-and-blood human beings. “American Rust” announces the arrival of a gifted new writer — a writer who understands how place and personality and circumstance can converge to create the perfect storm of tragedy.
 
Meyer's tone is less polemic than John Steinbeck's, but he's working on the same broad scale, using the struggles of a few desperate people to portray the tragedy of life in a place that offers no employment, no chance for improvement.
 
This novel is in desperate need of an exceptional editor rather than a myth. Amidst all that rust, there’s a good story, a few good characters, and it’s the first book that I’ve read in a long while that deserves to have American in its title; Meyer’s take on what it means to be an average Joe-the-Plumber-American holds promise for his literary future. But a lot of what’s good about American Rust manages to get lost in a bog of unimaginative prose, stereotyped characters and dead-ended subplots.
 

» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Philipp Meyerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Nilsson, NiclasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nimwegen, Arjaan vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Falls ein Mensch nicht im Besitz eines ewigen Bewußtseins wäre (…), falls sich unter allem eine bodenlose Leere, niemals gesättigt, verbärge, was wäre das Leben dann anders als Verzweiflung? (Søren Kierkegaard)
(…) was man in Plagen lernt, nämlich daß es an den Menschen mehr zu bewundern als zu verachten gibt. (Albert Camus)
Dedication
Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Für meine Familie
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Isaac's mother was dead five years but he hadn't stopped thinking about her.
Quotations
Isaac overheard his sister tell someone from college: half the people went on welfare and the other half went back to hunting and gathering.
Sarà sempre peggio, amico mio. Le buone azioni non restano impunite.
Odds of you existing — one in ten trillion, no smaller. One to Avogadro's number. 6.022 times 1023. Meanwhile people throw it away.
At seventeen, you’d pick a school based on the nice architecture, or that a professor had smiled at you, or that your best friend was going there—you made choices based on feelings, which were bound, especially at that age, to be arbitrary and ill-formed and rooted mostly in insecurity
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"Set in a beautiful but economically devastated Pennsylvania steel town, American Rust is a novel of the lost American dream and the desperation - as well as the acts of friendship, loyalty, and love - that arises from its loss. From local bars to trainyards to prison, it is the story of two young men, bound to the town by family, responsibility, inertia, and the beauty around them, who dream of a future beyond the factories and abandoned homes." "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.""Evoking John Steinbeck's novels of restless lives during the Great Depression, American Rust takes us into the contemporary American heartland at a moment of profound unrest and uncertainty about the future. It is a dark but lucid vision, a moving novel about the bleak realities that battle our desire for transcendence and of the power of love and friendship to redeem us."--BOOK JACKET.

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