American Rust

By Philipp Meyer
(Spiegel & Grau, Hardcover, 9780385527514, 384pp.)

Publication Date: February 24, 2009

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Selected by Indie Booksellers for the March 2009 Indie Next List
“Some authors create characters who do what you think they'll do, some who do what you hope they'll do, some who do what they 'ought' to do. But other authors allow their characters to live and breathe as they would if they were real. This powerful debut novel -- set in a present-day Pennsylvania steel town -- is filled with those kinds of characters. Meyer captures the danger, decay, and destruction that run through the heart of America's landscape in a story about life and death and loyalty and love.”
-- Kester Smith, Book People Bookstore, Austin, TX


Description

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.




About the Author

Philipp Meyer grew up in Baltimore, dropped out of high school, and got his GED when he was sixteen. After spending several years volunteering at a trauma center in downtown Baltimore, he attended Cornell University, where he studied English. Since graduating, Meyer has worked as a derivatives trader at UBS, a construction worker, and an EMT, among other jobs. His writing has been published in McSweeney's, The Iowa Review, Salon.com, and New Stories from the South. From 2005 to 2008 Meyer was a fellow at the Michener Center for Writers in Austin, Texas. He splits his time between Texas and upstate New York.

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