Announcing our Top 20 Books of 2022 and Award Winners

American Rust: Book summary and reviews of American Rust by Philipp Meyer

American Rust

by Philipp Meyer

American Rust by Philipp Meyer X
American Rust by Philipp Meyer
Buy This Book

About this book

Book Summary

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.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

"[An] unrelentingly downbeat debut ... the novel's weakness [is] a sense that some of the plot mechanics are arbitrary. Still, Meyer has a thrilling eye ... Fans of Cormac McCarthy or Dennis Lehane will find in Meyer an author worth watching." - Publishers Weekly.

"A Pandora's box of debate for book clubs, this novel is an essential purchase for libraries in Pennsylvania and surrounding states and strongly recommended for all other fiction collections." - Library Journal.

"Despite some contrived plot developments, a grimly powerful hybrid: provocative literary fiction crossed with a propulsive thriller." - Kirkus Reviews.

This information about American Rust was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

Write your own review

crankyoldcritic

not exactly uplifting, but if you're in a good frame of mind, highly recommended.
I found myself hard pressed not to skip ahead to see what happens to the characters. The story is compelling, but Meyer does stretch it out a bit too long, the main theme, in order to fully explore the inner... Hells that comprise the minds of all the characters. Comparisons to Hemingway, other than for sparseness and simplicity of style are perhaps a bit premature.

I was more interested in the story than all the internal ramblings of the characters, but these were well rendered, although difficult to relate to, as the characters are definitely from my neck of the woods, and all in direr straights than I could imagine.
but I'm not a cowboy, either, and the boys in the border series of C. Mcarthy were in a pretty deep jam too, but I rode with them, so to speak. I want to back away, quickly from those that inhabit Meyer's story. Comparisons to Cormac Mcarthy? It's also a bit early for that, although the utterly hopeless dilemmas of all involved are similar to those in the border stories (and "the road") of Mr. Mcarthy. However, Meyer's characters are not ever having a having a good time. And they do not feel good about anyone they know, or about themselves, or what they are doing, or might someday do. None of them. Ever.

In "The Road", in the most daunting role one could imagine, one imagines the father derives some satisfaction in the daily triumph over death for himself and his son, the hard won few hours more he can be with with his child, and that he holds some small hope at least for his boy against undeniably justified despair.

The characters in "American Rust" seem done in by life before they hit the big crisis in the book, (perhaps as a result of a life full of too large crises) and can't seem to muster up anything other than despair, or a moment's whimsical self-delusion. Maybe for me it's too realistic a portrayal of life in the rust belt. Fine. But don't read it if you're even a bit depressed. it will not lift you up.

I realize I've said as much about other authors as of Meyers, but printing on the book jacket the glowing reviews and comparisons to the large body of masterworks of 2 of the greatest authors of the last 100 years invites at least a few words of skepticism.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Author Information

Philipp Meyer Author Biography

Philipp Meyer (born 1974) is an American fiction writer, and is the author of the novels American Rust and The Son.

Meyer grew up in a working class neighborhood in Baltimore, the son of an artist and an electrician turned college science instructor. Meyer attended city public schools until dropping out at age 16 and getting a GED. He spent the next five years working as a bicycle mechanic and occasionally volunteering at Baltimore's Shock Trauma Center.

At age 20, he began taking classes at a variety of colleges in Baltimore and decided to become a writer. He also decided to leave his hometown, and at 22, on his third attempt at applying to various Ivy League colleges, he was admitted to Cornell University. He graduated with a degree in English and later worked at the Swiss Investment ...

... Full Biography
Link to Philipp Meyer's Website

Name Pronunciation
Philipp Meyer: my-yer

Other books by Philipp Meyer at BookBrowse
  • The Son jacket
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

More Recommendations

Readers Also Browsed . . .

more literary fiction...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Join and Save 20%!

Become a member and
discover exceptional books.

Find out more


Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: Horse
    Horse
    by Geraldine Brooks
    Voted 2022 Best Fiction Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers. Geraldine Brooks creates a ...
  • Book Jacket: In Love
    In Love
    by Amy Bloom
    Voted 2022 Best Nonfiction Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers. In 2019, author Amy Bloom and her...
  • Book Jacket: Remarkably Bright Creatures
    Remarkably Bright Creatures
    by Shelby Van Pelt
    Voted 2022 Best Debut Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers. Shelby Van Pelt's debut novel, ...

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Scatterlings
    by Resoketswe Martha Manenzhe

    The debut novel of a gifted storyteller who has become a sensation in her native South Africa.

Wordplay

The Big Holiday Wordplay

Enter Now

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
Cradles of the Reich
by Jennifer Coburn
Three women, a nation seduced by a madman, and the Nazi breeding program to create a so-called master race.
Who Said...

More Anagrams

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.