American Rust by Philipp Meyer
A Novel

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Synopsis

The debut novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Son

BONUS: This edition contains a reader's guide.

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 arise 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 the power of love and friendship to redeem us.

Newsweek's list of "Best. Books. Ever"
A Washington Post Top Ten Book of 2009
A New York Times Notable Book of 2009
An Economist Best Book of 2009
A Kansas City Star Top 100 book of 2009
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Best Books of 2009
Idaho Statesman's Best Books of 2009
 

About Philipp Meyer

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Philip Meyer is the author of the critically lauded novel American Rust, winner of the 2009 Los Angeles Times Book Prize. It was an Economist Book of the Year in 2009, a Washington Post Top Ten Book of the year, and a New York Times Notable Book. He is a graduate of Cornell University and has an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin, where he was a James Michener Fellow. A native of Baltimore, he now lives mostly in Texas.
 
Published February 18, 2009 by Spiegel & Grau. 386 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Crime. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for American Rust

The New York Times

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In Philipp Meyer’s affecting first novel, a young man decides to escape the small Pennsylvania steel town where he lives, setting off a series of events that lead to violence and tragedy.

Feb 26 2009 | Read Full Review of American Rust: A Novel

The New York Times

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Meyer’s crime novel/road novel hybrid also manages to chronicle life in a dying mill town.

Mar 22 2009 | Read Full Review of American Rust: A Novel

The Guardian

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Set in Buell, Pennsylvania, it features a familiar cast: Isaac England, a bright boy who should have gone to college but stayed to look after his disabled father;

Mar 06 2010 | Read Full Review of American Rust: A Novel

The Guardian

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He has fine-tuned the nuances of their voices, from the intensity of Isaac's rapid-fire thoughts, to the circular, defeated thought pattern of Poe's mother, Grace, and the plot is captivating without ever straying into the realm of folksy page-turner.

May 23 2009 | Read Full Review of American Rust: A Novel

The Washington Post

(Unlike Hemingway or McCarthy, Meyer knows how to create heartbreakingly real female characters, too.) Grace is trapped by a series of poor choices, baffled by the way fate has always turned against her and terrified by the possibility that she'll lose her son.

Feb 25 2009 | Read Full Review of American Rust: A Novel

Open Letters Monthly

however, after telling us he tutored Poe in math during high school, Isaac gives a different reason for going to see Poe before leaving town: “It was relief to see Poe, a distraction from the stolen money in his pocket.” Once again, we wonder is there something wrong with this boy that he could ...

| Read Full Review of American Rust: A Novel

Bookmarks Magazine

… Although [the novel sounds] melodramatic in summary, although the narrative tumble of dominoes requires that the reader occasionally suspend logic … Mr. Meyer does such a persuasive job of grounding plot developments in his protagonists’ emotional histories that his story acquires the sort of p...

Mar 02 2009 | Read Full Review of American Rust: A Novel

Monsters and Critics

When I read the novel for this review, I was read it fast because I wanted things to work out for the characters.

Feb 11 2009 | Read Full Review of American Rust: A Novel

Austin Chronicle

Philipp Meyer, a recent graduate of the University of Texas' Michener Center for Writers, has impeccable, even prescient, timing with his first novel.

Mar 13 2009 | Read Full Review of American Rust: A Novel

Reader Rating for American Rust
71%

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