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  1. Voices from America's underbelly
  2. American Rust by Philipp Meyer
  3. See a Problem?
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Buell has become the kind of place where kids cook up meth in their backyards and Wal-Mart is the only company hiring. Meyer's cast is equally familiar: Isaac England, a bright boy who should have gone to college but stayed to look after his disabled father; his sister, Lee, who has fled town for the Ivy League; his best friend, Billy Poe, the high-school football star who has become a violent, beer-swilling no-hoper; Poe's mother, Grace, who can't keep away from good-for-nothing men; and Bud, a cop with a good heart.

The story starts with Isaac setting off like "Jack Kerouac junior" for California, only for him and Poe to become embroiled in an accidental murder a few miles outside of town - his attempt to break away, to "be a somebody", thwarted at the first turn. A recent high school graduate, who, despite his academic potential, does not attend college and has little hope for leaving his hometown or achieving economic mobility. Remains to help care for his elderly father.

Twenty-one year-old best friend of Isaac, former high school football star, though he does not share his friend's dedication to academics. Receives an opportunity for an athletic scholarship to play football at Colgate University , though declines.

Voices from America's underbelly

Becomes implicated in murder in self-defense at an old trainer plant as he and Isaac plan to leave Buell in the opening of the novel. Becomes incarcerated, sacrificing himself to allow Isaac to leave his hometown. Isaac's older sister who escapes their hometown to attend Yale University where she feels insecurity due to her social class and where she grew up. Lee lives in Connecticut and is married to the wealthy Simon, who does not appear directly in the novel.

She also has an affair with Poe, whom she dated before she was married. Billy's mother, forty-one years old, who has an affair with Harris. Works as a seamstress, has a work-related repetitive stress injury in her hands. Fears that her job will be outsourced and that she will be reduced to working a minimum wage job. Police chief who investigates the murder committed by Billy and Isaac and has an old relationship with Billy's mother Grace. Father of Isaac and Lee. These are characters of strong bent, doing the right thing most of the time with self-doubting courage.

His philosophizing, as well as the keen knowledge of manufacturing, physics and literature are all on display, but delivered authentically through the six protagonists. It is a friendship story, it is about love, it is about fear, it is about courage, it is about hopelessness and renewal. From Harris, the sheriff p. The department was buying new cruisers with Corvette engines maybe every three years. You lost that, you lose the country. Alone, his daughter forgave him so she could leave. Because he has to. What his insides must look like.

Same as what you did to the Swede, part of you will die so as not to understand it. Cold, white hollow at your center. Kept warm by others or it leaks out into the world. What makes a man: Man alone the rational animal. A man alone is a rational animal. Hang on to your knife. I am not afraid of that, he thought. It is the unfinished business. Leaving plenty of it. It is only Poe.


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Only Poe that is not what you thought when he pulled you out of the water… I am lucky he thought I am lucky they cannot see me like this. I will get off this bridge. I will get off this bridge I will choose something. View all 9 comments. Oct 19, Dem rated it liked it. Isaac English and Billy Poe are best friends both still hanging around the decaying town of Buell and wanting out, Isaac is caring for his sick father while his sister Lee has moved away. Billy Poe has missed his chance to become a football star and finds himself attracting the attentions of the law on several occasions.

Isaac plans his escape and on th 3.


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Isaac plans his escape and on the day of his leaving town something happens that changes the two friends fates and test the loyalties of their friendship and those of families and loved ones. I really enjoyed this slow paced novel and thought the writing was really good.

The story is written from the alternating view of the novel's characters and this I really enjoyed as I found the story came through very clearly. The characters are totally believable and I found a wonderful sense of time and place in the novel. The town's demise after the a downturn in the steel Industry is very relevant to this story and we clearly see how people who once had purpose have lost their livelihoods and their self esteem and at times the novel could border on depressing.

After reading this book I would be wary of recommending it to friends as as its one of those books that is not going to be everybody's cup of tea but I enjoyed the read and will look out for other books by Philipp Meyer. View all 3 comments. Isaac e William Poe sono due amici antitetici insicura intelligenza e sfiducia volenterosa , si pensano complementari e sono connessi intimamente, l'uno salva la vita dell'altro: Da quel momento l'agire e l'essere per questi due personaggi sono dimensioni plurali e molteplici, che affrontano il mondo con coraggio e concretezza, ma insieme con una sorta di poetica rassegnazione.

Solo cercando in se stessi un'immagine sconosciuta e temuta, solo producendo uno strappo e un danno permanente, riescono a ottenere una ricompensa, a fuggire dai propri demoni interiori; in ultimo, a riconoscere un limite e a dialogare con le periferie solitarie dell'animo. Del resto, tutti sono sopravvissuti, esseri solitari esiliati in un luogo ambiguo, remoto e illusorio, come una contraddittoria regione archeologica e spirituale.

Insomma, in Ruggine americana sembra che siamo nati per vivere solo due volte. Feb 02, Sara rated it really liked it Shelves: ARC received through the First Reads giveaway program. I found American Rust to be very satisfying. It reminded me of Faulkner's writing, except for the part where Faulkner drives me crazy! I was also reminded a bit of Empire Falls , as both take place in towns that have fallen on rough times. There is definitely a plot, and it does move forward, but at a slower pace than expected for a story revolving around a murder. Meyer takes his time and explores the minds of the characters, which I think was ARC received through the First Reads giveaway program.

Meyer takes his time and explores the minds of the characters, which I think was a fantastic choice. I think if I was going through what these characters experience, I would be spending a good deal of time in my head. Not much time elapses during the course of the novel, which makes sense as thoughts take up most of the pages. American Rust is a slice of life in the truest sense--you get some feel for the place, but the inner lives of the people involved are what's really important.

They may not spend much time really noticing their surroundings, as you take a place for granted when you live in it. The ending, too, does not resolve all loose ends. Life does not always deliver in a neat package. Feb 03, Bill rated it really liked it Shelves: So I guess this is what is known as grit-lit. It's my first foray into this kind of book, but judging by this one, it won't be my last. It's actually a very simple story, of one young man trying to get out of a very depressed town in Pennsylvania.

He is accompanied for part of the way by a friend, and along the way, a death ensues. And basically the whole rest of the book is dealing with the ramifications of that encounter. The chapters alternate from the points of view of the various main charact So I guess this is what is known as grit-lit. The chapters alternate from the points of view of the various main characters, so the book is very easy to follow. Both the setting of the story and the plot itself are extremely bleak.

But don't let that put you off. The writing is uniformly excellent and I personally found the story to be very compelling, so I was hard pressed to put the book down. In fact, I just bought the author's second book The Son. O escritor americano escreve uma forma clara e objectiva, sem embelezar a realidade obscura que rodeia o seu enredo. Afinal de contas, todos procuramos o mesmo. View all 20 comments. I found this to be an engrossing first novel. Meyer has a different writing style than most authors. He captures the thoughts of the characters, it can change mid stream with no punctuation.

I had no problem with this and thought it worked well for the story. The setting is an economically devastated Pennsylvania community in which the steel industry has collapsed. Times are tough, we get a good look at the socioeconomic and political pressures of the characters. We are introduced to two young me I found this to be an engrossing first novel. We are introduced to two young men, Isaac English and Billy Poe. Isaac is a small guy with a very high IQ, an introvert. Billy is a big guy, the high school football star. They both had difficult childhoods and have dreams of escaping for a better future.

I thought the author did a good job of capturing the actions of how people, regardless of whether on the right or wrong side of law struggle morally with doing the right thing. I found some of the actions of Sheriff Bud Harris to be a bit unbelievable. I'm kicking myself for for not getting his second novel The Son when it was 2. View all 7 comments. Mar 14, Trish rated it really liked it Shelves: A really magnificent first novel. From the opening scenes Meyer created a world where lives hover on a knife's edge of disaster.

Poor choices and bad decisions land his characters in nasty situations any of us would have difficulty confronting. Readers have a sense of the big picture only because the author tells his story from many points of view. But he doesn't tell us the future before he is ready and it is with a sense of impending doom that we watch the story unfold to what we fully expect A really magnificent first novel.

American Rust by Philipp Meyer

But he doesn't tell us the future before he is ready and it is with a sense of impending doom that we watch the story unfold to what we fully expect will be its dreadful conclusion. This novel did not get nearly the attention it deserved when it was published in February this year. If I have any complaints at all it is merely that it contained more words than it needed. The characters are drawn with sensitivity and depth and the scenes have added details that crank the reader's sense of foreboding to high.

I hope his publisher puts this work up front for promotion. It is said that men don't really read novels. If all novels were as good as this one, I think we'd see a lot more men among the converted.


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A Novel Marc Bojanowski, are other examples of books I consider from a man's point of view. Mar 18, Lisaruss rated it did not like it. Why can't the crop of young American writers learn to write properly constructed literature? Fyodor Dostoevsky's take on the subject, for God's sake. My suggestion to the potential readers o Why can't the crop of young American writers learn to write properly constructed literature? My suggestion to the potential readers of this book is to select books written by authors who wrote in other centuries if you desire to read quality fiction.

American Rust needs to yellow and tatter and slowly disintegrate on the shelf.

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Trees sacrificed so that someone without much talent can make a lot of money. View all 11 comments. Feb 03, Joe rated it did not like it Shelves: Tedious American Rust is a very bleak tale that takes place in current-day Western Pennsylvania.

The plot is set early on in the book - two of the protagonists find themselves in a situation beyond their control - and the aftermath and repercussions of their actions are what drive the very minimal story-line. The narration bounces back and forth between a connected set of characters, each with their own set of dreams and problems as they try to escape - figuratively and actually - the dire circum Tedious American Rust is a very bleak tale that takes place in current-day Western Pennsylvania.

The narration bounces back and forth between a connected set of characters, each with their own set of dreams and problems as they try to escape - figuratively and actually - the dire circumstances they find themselves in. This book received much praise when published; I didn't think American Rust lived up to its billing. Consciously or not, I felt the writing was an attempt to emulate the novels of Cormac McCarthy - dark and brooding. Unfortunately where McCarthy's books are terse and concise, American Rust is verbose, rambling and repetitive. The combined narration of each of the story-tellers becomes a collective self-flagellation.

Their inability to make decisions - and the few circumstantial ones they do make - becomes paralyzing and the story becomes dismally predictable, i. Understanding that such phenomena do mirror real-life, they are not all encompassing; there is no balance here. By the end of the book I had lost both empathy for the characters and interest in the - I repeat myself - minimal story.

Dark stories are one thing but pitiful is another. Pass on this one - extremely tedious reading. Feb 14, Nikos79 rated it really liked it. That was a good contemporary piece of American literature which usually disappoints me. Debut novel by Philipp Meyer and what a promising beginning for a new writer! Set in an province of Pensylvania USA at late 90's the book focuses around the consequences of the economic collapse of local industry on people's life, of middle and low class in a small town.

Such as misery, poverty, crisis of personality, despair, things that many times leading to violence and absolutely wrong decisions. So are t That was a good contemporary piece of American literature which usually disappoints me. So are the characters of the book, most of them tragic figures, trying to survive in difficult situations and hope for a better living, but with almost wrong motivations.

Meyer does not afraid to present in his book the dark side of American dream using a language with dry realism and uncomfortable but convincing scenes, lot of violence but holding the interest of the reader undiminished till the end. I enjoyed a lot the multiple voices he uses telling the whole story and he succeeds it very well giving the appropriate color in his text.

I liked a lot the ending as well, it is very cinematic and intense, and although I was expecting it to be different, I enjoyed it. I read that he has influences by Cormac McCarthy, a writer that I admire so much, and this is quite obvious. I hope and wish even better books by him in future, I believe he has enough talent to show us, and I 'm gonna get his other book, "The Son" for sure.

Well done Philipp Meyer. Alguma vez vos aconteceu? Mas continuamos a ouvir, duvidando do nosso discernimento Pois se todos gostam! View all 21 comments. O romancista Philipp Meyer n.

Feb 05, Kim rated it liked it Shelves: I gave this book three stars for the literary value. I had trouble with it though, because the gratuitous sex bothered me. I guess, my prudishness can get in the way of books like this. May 21, K. Absolutely rated it liked it Recommends it for: Most Filipinos think that their relatives in the USA are better-off than them. The economy of the US has not really bottomed out yet. The continuous exodus of their jobs is still happening. Many Americans are losing their jobs because plants are closing down and being transferred to low-cost countries like China, India, Southeast Asian and Eastern Europe countries.

Wherever it is cheaper to operate, they go. That is the backdrop of this novel. The first novel of Philipp Meyer, American Rust that won several awards last year: Ever" July Not bad, huh? His writing is taut, clear, immediate, direct and thank God, non-melodramatic. Critics say that he is the next John Steinbeck not surprising since American Rust is also about poor people leaving a place in USA in search of a greener pasture , William Faulker because of his stream-of-consciousness inspired writing or J.

Salinger because of his main characters - young adults with angst. Given those reasons, I agree to all these. He deserved every accolade written by critics in the blurbs found in the book as well as in the web. The book is about Billy Poe , 21 and Isaac English who graduated from high school in a drying Pennsylvania steel town.

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This means that the steel mills closed because they were not cost effective anymore and the owners relocated to Greece or Germany according to the book. This was around the start of the millennium. The parents of these newly grads could not afford to send them to school.