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American Rust

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3.67  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,830 Ratings  ·  963 Reviews
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 train yards to prison, it's the story of two young men, bound to the town by family, responsibility, inertia, and the beauty aroun ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published February 24th 2009 by Spiegel & Grau (first published 2009)
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Deb For me the syntax added to the experience of reading the book because I don't think we think in complete sentences, but rather fragments of thought.…moreFor me the syntax added to the experience of reading the book because I don't think we think in complete sentences, but rather fragments of thought. It helped me feel I was in the minds of the characters. And what richly drawn characters they are!(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jeffrey Keeten
Oct 03, 2014 Jeffrey Keeten rated it it was amazing
”There was something particularly American about it--blaming yourself for bad luck--that resistance to seeing your life as affected by social forces, a tendency to attribute larger problems to individual behavior. The ugly reverse of the American Dream.”

The other side of that coin is that Americans tend to look at people who have a streak of bad luck as having brought that adversity upon themselves. Maybe they didn’t pray hard enough, or they kicked their dog too many times, or they slept around
...more
Warwick

When I worked in France I covered a lot of industrial disputes, as you can imagine. Renault would try and close a factory, and suddenly the whole country was out on strike: I found it incredible when I first arrived. ‘Surely,’ I said to colleagues, ‘someone running a company has the right to decide whether or not to keep one of their factories open.’ They looked at me like I was insane. They didn't see the issue in those terms at all: for them, it was about a world with a colossal wealth gap whe
...more
karen
Oct 22, 2011 karen rated it really liked it
Shelves: grit-lit
awwww poor boook. i am only feeling three stars here but i am giving it four because the other reviews are so unfair. (not the one that says there has been no good fiction published this century - that one is so much laughable curmudgeonly elitist bullshit i can't even acknowledge it) but it's not a bad book. as far as the "confusing narration" "who is speeeeaking??" hint: the chapter names are the names of the narrators. so - no great mystery there. the run-ons and lack of punctuation?? it's mo ...more
D. Pow
Feb 24, 2010 D. Pow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Philipp Meyer’s American Rust is one of the finest first novels I’ve read in the last several years, and a novel that many writers(regardless of their experience) would give their eye teeth or left nut to have written.

The novel follows the odd couple of Billy Poe and Isaac English from an act of brutal if needful violence to the furies of internal and external justice have exacted their balancing pound of flesh. Poe, is a behemoth, a former football star, a bit of a dunderhead with a short fuse
...more
Rayroy
Oct 15, 2013 Rayroy rated it really liked it
I have been living in Pittsburgh for over seven years and in that time I have often visited the Mon River Valley south of the city of champions. Towns such as Monessen, Donora, New Eagle, Brownsville, Bell Vernon and others make up the Mon River Valley, They are towns nestled between the muddy brown Monongahela River and inspiring hillsides, each town has its own unique charm and the region is the setting of Philip Meyer's American Rust. Meyer's describes the valley strikingly well, I got a thr ...more
Dem
Jan 17, 2014 Dem rated it liked it
3.5 stars

American Rust by Philipp Meyer is set in the fictional town of Buell amid the decaying industrial landscape of Mon Valley Pennsylvania.

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
...more
Bill
Feb 03, 2016 Bill rated it really liked it
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
...more
Cosimo
Nov 13, 2015 Cosimo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Le migliori occasioni

In una Pennsylvania dove l'acciaio ha una potenza primitiva, nell'ora del declino crepuscolare di una civiltà industriale ormai morente, Philipp Meyer ambienta una narrazione coinvolgente e realistica, che si sviluppa in una malinconica e tragica storia di riscatto e di evoluzione. Le avventurose relazioni tra i personaggi sono intessute di un amore disperato, in un luogo fuori del tempo dove l'unica via d'uscita è perdere vincendo, ossia sacrificando qualcosa o qualcuno. No
...more
Maria João Fernandes
Dec 14, 2012 Maria João Fernandes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
"Quantas promessas pode uma pessoa quebrar antes de deixares de a perdoar?"

"Ferrugem Americana" é o primeiro romance de Philipp Meyer e a sua história tem lugar numa pequena cidade da Pensilvânia. Outrora o coração da indústria do aço, Buell tornou-se numa cidade em ruínas. Antigamente fervilhava de vida, mas hoje só tem para oferecer desemprego e pobreza aos seus habitantes. A atmosfera sufocante aliada ao desespero há muito enraizado nas personagens torna o ambiente sombrio e a tensão é palpáv
...more
Sara
Jul 13, 2010 Sara rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
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
...more
Howard
In "American Rust," Philipp Meyer’s debut novel, the steel mill in the fictional town of Buell, Pennsylvania closed in 1987 and was partially dismantled ten years later. Now the mill stands like an ancient ruin that is being taken over by vines and other vegetation. The only visitors are coyotes and deer and an occasional human squatter. Buell was “a place that had recently been well-off, its downtown full of historic stone buildings, mostly boarded now.” What is true of Buell is also true of ot ...more
Trish
Oct 02, 2014 Trish rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
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 ...more
Lisaruss
Mar 18, 2009 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. When the sum total of someone's experiential modus operandi has involved cell phones, laptops, iPods, electronic devices, 24/7 cable TV, football half-time shows, virtual carnal knowledge, scanners, bar codes, reality TV, et al., to ad infinitum, then what can one really expect from such a cultural meltdown?

My suggestion to the potential readers o
...more
Kim
Dec 24, 2010 Kim rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
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.
Kirsta
Apr 06, 2009 Kirsta rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009
For a book based on a great reality of our times, I found the characters to be completely unrealistic. The writing, from multiple characters points of view is muddled. How is it that so many people, who apparently don't communicate with one another at all, can have such identical, deeply profound thoughts? They are all thinking the same things about their home and times, yet when they communicate with one another, they aren't talking about anything, they are just cussing and then sleeping togeth ...more
K.D. Absolutely
May 25, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it liked it
Recommends it for: John Grisham fans
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2010 edition)
Shelves: 1001-non-core
Most Filipinos think that their relatives in the USA are better-off than them. Think again. 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, Americ
...more
Teresa
Mar 16, 2013 Teresa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: n-usa
Alguma vez vos aconteceu...?

Ouvirem falar de alguém de quem todos gostam. Alguém, cujo encanto nos absorve e apaixona e ao qual ficamos irremediavelmente presos.
De tal forma, que somos tomados de uma vontade irresistível de conhecer essa pessoa e com ela desfrutar das prometidas maravilhas.
Quando, finalmente, a encontramos e ela nos fala, nos conta os seus segredos, as suas histórias, somos tomados pelo desespero. Porque não entendemos, nem nos interessamos pelo que nos conta e porque nos aborre
...more
Alex
Feb 18, 2014 Alex rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is a powerful and profound novel. The back cover blurb of the copy I have has a salutation from the UK Sunday Telegraph that reads: "In racing terms its by Of Mice and Men, out of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, ridden by Cormac McCarthy, and trained by Salinger J.D and Jack Kerouac......terrifically impressive". Not bad for a debut novel.

Set in the present in a small Pennsylvania milling town, this is the story of a group of people battling overwhelming economic and social woes. The ov
...more
Evan
Sep 17, 2011 Evan rated it liked it
There are a pile of really boneheaded reviews on here about this book. I'm still giving it three stars, but it doesn't deserve to be dragged through the mud just because some people don't understand innovative punctuation usage.

Look, whether you agree with the moral overtones of the book or not, the story is compellingly told and utterly sincere. There is an awful lot of carping on these reviews about the book's supposed atheist overtones, which I admit are pretty strong, but I take that as a st
...more
Kathy (anothergreatetcetera)
When I first heard about this book, I thought it would be the average road trip novel, a glimpse of disillusioning the American Dream and a bit of coming of age for that skinny boy who is on the cover of the edition I bought.
But what I found was very different and surprised me in a very positive way.

American Rust is set in a fictional small town near Pittsburgh called Buell whose economic situation used to depend on the steel mills. But since the steel industry collapsed, the town has been dyi
...more
Michael
Apr 28, 2011 Michael rated it it was amazing
Shelves: five-star-books
Depressing but very compelling and intriguing is how i describe Phillip Myers dark tale of two friends Isaac and Billy longing for a better life in an area devastated by the economic meltdown. Along the way they encounter all manner of things including a violent incident that has the ability to destroy all there plans and their lives.

The main themes displayed for me was the sheer bleakness of the environment with towns once thriving now full of closed down factories with decaying facade and bro
...more
João Carlos


A história de “Ferrugem Americana” desenvolve-se com a ocorrência de um acto violento e inesperado, que revela a crueldade de decisões inconscientes e impensadas – condicionando directamente a vida presente e futura de Isaac e de Billy Poe.
Num cenário americano de desintegração económica e social existe uma galeria de personagens, verdadeiramente inesquecíveis com destaque para o polícia Harris, que entre a marginalidade e a consciência, promove a “sua” justiça, baseada em factores aparentement
...more
Darwin8u
Jul 15, 2012 Darwin8u rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
Probably 4.5 corroded stars. An amazing first novel that spins a web of American despair and desperation set in a degraded rust belt town that is still in the midst of the Fall. It is a novel of hard compromises, silent heros, and people that grind on every day knowing the sun for them will not rise tomorrow. This is a novel that narrates the things we all do to survive in a universe that is slowly growing cold. It is written for and about the people we rely on to survive, those we hurt and the ...more
David
Feb 21, 2009 David rated it really liked it
This book is wonderfully visceral. The description is very meaty and really makes the setting come alive. What I like most is how Meyer juxtaposes the characters off of each other. The chapters present focuses from alternating characters' points of view, but Meyer doesn't alternate just to present a different take on the events of the novel. Rather, the characters develop in relation to each other. I felt not only the conflicts in the character in dealing with the events that occur, but the conf ...more
Paola
Feb 28, 2012 Paola rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: narrativa
La scrittura di PM é di quelle che a me piacciono molto. La scrittura flusso di coscienza, o meglio l'essere nella testa dei protagonisti, seguire i loro pensieri, le loro associazioni, i salti dei nessi logici. Il massimo per ottenere un'identificazione con il personaggio.
La storia avvince, la scrittura é secca, asciutta.
Philipp Meyer mi ha ricordato per certi versi Cormac MacCarthy e per altri Percival Everett.
(libro trovato nella piccola libreria del riciclato, ogni tanto si trovano piccoli t
...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
In my opinion, this author cannot write. There are both run-on sentences and sentence fragments. In one paragraph, he had a character think of himself in the the third person, "talk" to himself in the second person, and then Meyer wrote of him in the 3rd person. In spite of this, I persevered because this is a piece of this season's challenge that I didn't want to unlink/abandon. And if the writing style wasn't enough to put me in a bad mood, the vocabulary is boring.

I thought the subject would
...more
Josh
Well, in fairness, I took WAY longer to get through this book than I should have. That's no fault of the book; I simply had way too much chasing life going on (which oddly is the primary statement/point to this book......the death of the American dream). I am rating it a three which in this case equates, "I didn't hate it, and I didn't love it". Meyer has skill as a writer, and I am still anxious to get the The Son, but for me this book was trying to hit too many bases. Never fully developing ch ...more
Casey
Aug 27, 2014 Casey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What happens to small Pennsylvania steel town after the steel mill shuts down? How do the people who once had a good life, with security and benefits, cope? American Rust deals with this: the American Dream, and its failure. What’s interesting is that the characters in this book don’t pine for the life that left them behind. Instead, they become resigned, they hope for nothing more. Take this quote, for example.

“He had slept through life, let the currents take him. He had let the currents take h
...more
Krista
Feb 22, 2009 Krista rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
The tag for this book talks about beauty, dreams, and inspiration, and it has been compared to Russell Banks' picture of the Great Depression and John Steinbeck's exploration of America. Unfortunately, those descriptors were more lofty and pure than the actual story, so I ended up entering the giveaway of a book for which I probably wasn't the intended audience. I'm sure my rating reflects this, so read the review and interpret it as you will.

My take on the book: The background was a financiall
...more
Terence Hawkins
Mar 15, 2009 Terence Hawkins rated it really liked it
I'm either the best person to review this book or the worst. The book is set in Fayette County ("Fayette Nam") PA; the chief characters are two friends, Isaac the high school brainiac and Poe the football hero, and Lee, Isaac's sister, who somehow escaped to Yale. As it happens I grew up in Fayette County and made it to New Haven myself.

On the one hand I found Meyer's depiction of the physically beautiful and economically desolate Mon Valley deeply compelling and painfully accurate. On the other
...more
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Philipp Meyer's novel, American Rust, was an Economist Book of the Year, a Washington Post Top Ten Book of 2009, a New York Times Notable Book, A Kansas City Star Top 100 Book of 2009, and an Amazon Top 100 Book of 2009.

Philipp Meyer grew up in Baltimore, dropped out of high school, and got his GED when he was sixteen. After spending several years working as a bike mechanic and volunteering at a t
...more
More about Philipp Meyer...

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“You ought to be able to grow up in a place and not have to get the hell out of it when you turn eighteen.” 10 likes
“It was like this all up and down the river and many of the young people, the way they accepted their lack of prospects, it was like watching sparks die in the night...He didn't see how the country could survive like this in the long run; a stable society required stable jobs, there wasn't anything more to it than that. ” 3 likes
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