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American Rust: A Novel [DECKLE EDGE] (Hardcover) Hardcover – February 24, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Spiegel & Grau; First Edition edition (February 24, 2008)
  • ASIN: B002YXS17U
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (311 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,776,355 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Philipp Meyer grew up in a working class neighborhood in Baltimore, where he dropped out of high school and got a GED. After five years working as a bike mechanic and an orderly in a trauma center, he decided to attend college, getting into Cornell University at the age of 22. He graduated with a degree in English and he got a job on Wall Street as a derivatives trader. After paying off his student loans, he left Wall Street hoping write full time, but after several years of failure moved back to Baltimore and took jobs as an EMT and construction worker. In 2005 he received a fellowship from the University of Texas's Michener Center for Writers. In 2009 he published his first novel American Rust, which won a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, was an Economist Book of the Year, a New York Times Notable Book, a Washington Post Book of the Year, and made numerous other "best-of" list. Meyer is a Guggenheim Fellow and one of the second generation of the New Yorker's 20 best writers under 40. His second novel, The Son, is being published in fifteen languages. He lives mostly in Austin, Texas.

Customer Reviews

That just really made me hate the book more than I should.
Devin Brown
As for the other supporting characters, they were interesting and did add some to the plot development, however in the end, where they ended up was not satifying.
Flash
Author Philipp Meyer's character development and mastery of the written word are outstanding.
Bookskinny

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

119 of 129 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Bell on June 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover
As my four regular readers can attest, I do not have much good to say about the contemporary novelists held in high regard by literary critics and prize juries. As a rule, I don't trust the taste of book critics. Too many have joined the Cult of the Sentence, deeming that fiction best that piles up the most standout sentences, imagery and "lyrical" language, the accumulated weight of which apparently makes a novel literature with a capital L. It's been a long time since I picked up a book from the New Fiction shelf at the bookstore, read the first page and walked to the register with it. The triumph of style over story in modern literary fiction leaves me cold, bitter and buying classics.

Then I read a couple of reviews of American Rust. (Yes, I still do read reviews, even the New York Times Book Review, hoping against all evidence for change, going back again and again like an abused spouse.) The only thing in the reviews that got me looking for the novel was the subject matter: the effect of industrial collapse on America workers. Being from a long line of working class rednecks, I decided to give another new author a chance based on that alone.

And I'm glad I did. Philipp Meyer has produced a book that, by the end, had me comparing his novel to Richard Wright's Native Son and John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath. Like them, he masterfully weaves into the story the socioeconomic and political pressures that bear on the lives of his characters without preaching, without beating us over the head with a morality tale. Yet you can't come away from it without knowing in your bones the corrosive effects of industrial decline on the lives of his working class characters. He has deep sympathy for all of his characters, the "good" and the "bad.
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83 of 95 people found the following review helpful By Lee Shipman on February 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I had the pleasure of reading an advanced copy of American Rust, a powerful debut novel and a rare find: compelling literary fiction with the engine of a gripping thriller. The story of the fallout of a murder on a group of connected characters is set in an economically depressed region of Pennsylvania whose struggle, like so many of these people, is all the more difficult in the (often literal) shadow of its former greatness and promise. And that's what Meyer does so well here, beyond creating a engrossing page-turner -- we get to know all of these terrifically realized characters through their perspective, and those intimate portraits web together to give us something bigger: the complex relationship between people and place, individuals and community. And though the characters are all bound by this dying town and the blowback of the crime that affects them all, the division of the story into these individual perspectives gives a real sense of their isolation; the characters might find salvation in each other, if they could only communicate their need for it. American Rust is an overall outstanding read from a major new talent.
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50 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Melinda Seifert on February 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I was privileged to receive an advance readers copy of American Rust. As the characters developed I found myself intrigued by the choices we make in life that take us where we go. The writing is dramatic, the plot intense and the story compelling. I can't believe this is Philipp Meyer's first novel. I know it sounds corny, but reading American Rust I was struck with the thought that if you had a little Cormac McCarthy, Hemingway and Steinbeck--you'd have Philipp Meyer.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who reads books for their literary value and who value the imagery that creates the type of experience that comes back to haunt you long after you've read the last sentence and closed the book.
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful By S. Taylor on October 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a Pittsburgh native who watched the collapse of the steel industry, I thought I'd find more in this book to relate to. The characters were well-drawn and sympathetic, but the plot seemed more melodramatic than necessary. The ending also left a lot to be desired; full resolution was obviously not possible, but a bit more information on what happened after the denouement would've been welcome (and no, it's not the sort of book that lends itself to a sequel). I can't say I'm sorry I read it, but on the other hand I have other books in my to-read stack that I wish I'd gotten to first.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I picked up `American Rust' simply because the premise sounded promising and the cover art was utterly mesmerizing. Upon receiving the book I read a little review on the outset of the novel that likened Philipp Meyer to Russell Banks, and if you've read my reviews for `The Sweet Hereafter' or `Affliction' then you know that I consider Russell Banks to be the greatest American writer of all time and so my appetite was wet and my expectations were high upon ripping into the first chapter of `American Rust'. What I found was not what I expected, and while I think this was a fine attempt and a great jump off point, Meyer, in my opinion, has some growing to do.

He's no Russell Banks.

The novel tells the story of Isaac English and Billy Poe, two very different young men who grew up together in a small southern town. Both have had very hard childhoods. Billy lived in a divided home his whole life and has sacrificed his future in order to take care of his mother. Isaac's mother committed suicide and his sister ran off to college so he was left taking care of his crippled father. Both boys are trapped in a town too small for them with dreams of escaping they can never get up the courage to realize.

Until Isaac decides he wants out.

The novel is broken down into six sections, and some sections work much better than others. The first section is brilliant and truly gives you a rich understanding of these two young men and the poor decision they made. The second section is also very well done, further developing not only the relationship between these two men but also with their scattered families. It's within the third section that the novel starts to fall apart for me.
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