Customer Reviews


99 Reviews
5 star:
 (40)
4 star:
 (41)
3 star:
 (10)
2 star:
 (8)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A devastating portrayal of urban decline
This novel carries at its heart the theme of urban and cultural degeneration. The characters within it are constrained by the tapestry of Buell, the town in which they live, and which has, in one way or another, marked them. The backdrop is presented in lovingly unforgiving detail, a steel mill town without an open mill, a rural idyll where everyone is trying to make...
Published on 30 May 2009 by Christopher Meadows

versus
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Welcome to the Rust Bowl
I ordered this book upon reading the blurb that said it was the best book to come from an American author since Cormac McCarthy's 'The Road'. Now, being as I got pretty evangelical over *that* particular masterpiece earlier this year, I thought if this one even comes near it'll be a very decent read.

But, that's the tricky thing about expectations, isn't it? At...
Published on 28 Jun. 2009 by Cat Mac


‹ Previous | 1 210 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A devastating portrayal of urban decline, 30 May 2009
By 
Christopher Meadows (York, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: American Rust (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This novel carries at its heart the theme of urban and cultural degeneration. The characters within it are constrained by the tapestry of Buell, the town in which they live, and which has, in one way or another, marked them. The backdrop is presented in lovingly unforgiving detail, a steel mill town without an open mill, a rural idyll where everyone is trying to make their way to their next meal, as everything crumbles around them. Perhaps one of the greatest achievements here is in that successful protrayal of rural life in a one-industry town, where the inhabitants are not idealised, or stereotyped, but represented with a refreshing honesty which made this a fascinating read.

Into this world are dropped a pair of unlikely friends, one of whom plans to move on to something better - the other unable to believe in deserving anything better. As all plans do, this one goes terribly wrong - but while this is a book about mistakes, it seems to be mmore one about the consequences of those mistakes, from the gradual and inevitable decline of a small town, to the erosion of the will sand lives of those within it.

Having said that, the novel also explores, with a startling grace, the eseence of the human condition. The reader is treated to cupidity, naivety, and plain old idiocy, all portrayed exceptionally. To counterbalance this, they are given nobility, trust, duty, and an understanding of honour, often from surprising sources. Meyer successfully shines a light under the rock of small town USA, and comes up with the slime - and the diamonds - buried beneath.

While there were a few strains of narrative which seemed a little awkward at times (enough to avoid a 5 star rating), the core of this novel is absolutely fascinating;the portrayal of people, places and events is honest, and exciting. The plot, basic as it is, is intense, and will leave you turning pages hoping for more - perhaps my greatest complaint is that the conclusion feels sparse and abrupt. But then, perhaps that was the intention.

I had trouble putting this book down, and I'd recommend it - though in some areas it may be a little too visceral, and in others a bit too intense, to make for light summer reading - the text seems to demand more from the reader. That said, read this novel - you won't be disappointed.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark, stylised tale of American decline, 17 Jun. 2009
By 
Epigone (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: American Rust (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This was quite a surprise. The first few pages, with their spare style and orchestrated intensity, had me expecting a fairly conventional thriller - but the story gradually revealed unexpected depth and nuance, whilst never losing pace or atmosphere. There are some fascinating characters to be found in here, as well as the wonderfully realised context of a decaying Pennsylvania mining town. Meyer's evocation of the urban and rural American landscape is impressive and thick with social and cultural connotations.

Meyer uses a tight structure, switching constantly between internal monologues to tell the story of two young men and their families working through the aftermath of the traumatic and morally confusing event that kicks the novel off. Operating within the bounds of genre fiction, he creates characters that both embody and exceed their archetypes - angry young men, small-town cops - and reveal themselves to be complex, crafted and conflicted. The shadow that the initial trauma casts over the characters really drives the story forward, screwing with relationships and putting the two protagonists under constant fear of retribution.

This is a confident, intelligent, subtle and morally complex page-turner with some great writing, impeccable characterisation and a singularly gritty, filmic atmosphere.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wake-up call, 20 Aug. 2009
By 
J. Charlesworth (Lewes, E. Sussex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: American Rust (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Welcome to post-industrial America. The characters of Phillip Meyer's American Rust drift through life in a Pennsylvania steel town devastated by the moving of industry abroad. Isaac, the smartest boy in town, persuades his aimless best friend, Billy Poe, to leave town with him, but before they even board a freight train, they enter a confrontation with some drifters that leaves a man dead- and one of them must take responsibility. The meat of the novel isn't really in the description of how the boys and their families cope with the fallout from one ill-judged action, but in how they struggle to maintain dignity against all odds.

For such a bleak tale, however, American Rust is surprisingly positive and humane, showing the importance of family and relationships, especially in unforgiving circumstances. Its characters give a human face to economic tragedy- Poe, for example, has seen his parents' relationship crumble and his mother lose all hope of making something of her life. Is it any wonder he feels adrift? Or that everyone expects him to end up in jail, like so many other young men? In its emotional breadth and depth, American Rust is superb, despite the contrived nature of the central events.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More things to admire in men than to despise, 16 Oct. 2013
By 
Antenna (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: American Rust (Kindle Edition)
This impressive American "debut" novel must have flowered from the diverse influences of growing up with book-loving bohemian parents in a tough working-class suburb, dropping out of school to gain raw experiences but somehow getting to college, avidly reading Joyce, Faulkner and Woolf, and carrying first-hand research to the extent of riding freight trains and interviewing men on trial for murder.

Set against the backdrop of the crumbling American dream, as foreign competition knocks the heart out of once thriving steel-making towns, Meyer explores the drama of an unlikely friendship: on one hand, puny and eccentric but brilliant Isaac English, haunted by his mother's suicide and burdened by the task of caring for his cranky invalid father, on the other athletic but indolent Poe who has thrown away the chance to train as a football champion. Both share a confused desire to escape the depressed backwater of Buell, mixed with inertia and a love of the area's natural beauty. When one commits a serious crime, acting on impulse to save the life of the other, who will be blamed and with what outcomes?

After a dramatic opening, the story slips into a slow-paced cycle round the inner thoughts of six linked characters: Isaac, his favoured sister Lee who has managed to escape to Yale and a wealthy marriage, his crippled father Henry, Poe, his long-suffering mother Grace and Harris, the local police chief who fancies her, himself a survivor of the Vietnam war. Sometimes, Isaac's streams of consciousness become too obscure and tedious, the boozy sex between Grace and Harris a little repetitive, the minor scenes, as when Lee or Harris is socialising, too corny or banal. The strongest charge is that the denouement seems a little rushed and underdeveloped compared with the rest, although I liked the upbeat but open ending. Yet overall, this is gripping, with sufficient tension and unresolved drama to keep you reading in the belief that Meyer is ruthless enough to opt for tragedy, although it will never be unrelieved.

Less ambitious and "epic" than its successor "The Son", for me, "American Rust" is a technically better novel since the structure is tighter and the characters are more fully developed and therefore you care about their fate, with the possible exception of Lee who is the only one who might be regarded as successful, which perhaps is perhaps intentional on Meyer's part.

A good choice for a reading group as there is so much to discuss, it bridges the blurred gap between literary and popular fiction.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read, 2 Aug. 2009
By 
M. Steele (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: American Rust (Paperback)
Philipp Meyer's "American Rust" is an interesting read. The multiple viewpoints from the different characters in each chapter are different, but enjoyable. There are times when it annoying changes perspective when something is about to happen, but this helps to make you want to read on. The story is good, and you learn a lot about the problems in this part of America that can be likened to that happening in the current "credit crunch". Meyer manages to create a tangled web of characters that all seem to be involved with each other in one way or another. There are very bleak times in the book, and also the opposite times. The ending is hugely satisfying and leaves you wanting to find out more. This is Meyer's debut novel; I can't wait for the next one.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bleak portrayal of post-industrial America, 1 Dec. 2009
This review is from: American Rust (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
American Rust is set in a small town in Pennsylvania, once rich with steel business, now rife with unemployment and the problems accompanying the departure of big industry. The story centres around two young men, Poe and Isaac, each trapped in their own way in the town, having foregone opportunities elsewhere. Isaac is keen to escape and tries to do just that. But events are set not to run smoothly for Poe and Isaac. The book follows two main story arcs, one as Isaac embarks on a trip across country and the other following Poe's more bleak journey.

The story is a fantastic piece of character driven fiction - Poe and Isaac are deep and interesting characters and the supporting cast of Poe's mother, Isaac's father and sister and the town sheriff are very well realised and add substance to the story. It's a story that doesn't offer a lot of hope for its characters, other than through their relationships with one another, but watching the story unfold is compelling.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars They Are Ordinary People, 10 Jun. 2013
By 
prisrob "pris," (New England USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: American Rust (Paperback)
"They're ordinary people.
And they're livin' in a nightmare.
Hard workin' people.
And they don't know
how they got there.
Ordinary people.
And they think that you don't care.
Hard workin' people"
Neil Young 'Ordinary People'

Philipp Meyer has written a superb novel of ordinary people, ordinary people who are desperate, trying to survive in a Pennsylvania steel town. He writes of tragedies in these lives,those who have no jobs, no opportunities and no future. His prose accurately describes the rusting steel of the towns along the Monongahela River. The rusting towns interspersed with beautiful lush trees and rivers flowing along the green grassy banks.

'American Rust' tells the story of two young men, so opposite in stature and style. One of them Issac is the genius, intelligent young man , small and looks years younger than his 20 years. Billy Poe is the strapping blond, good looking hero, football player. Both of these men were meant to make something of their lives, but circumstances changed these plans. Issac stayed home to care for his disabled father, and Billy Poe just never could get himself going to apply for that football scholarship. Issace decides after three years he has had enough and plans on leaving town. He steals four thousand dollars from his father's savings and sets out walking. Issac has talked Billy Poe into leaving with him. They stop off for a rest from the driving rain in an old mill buidling. Three homeless men find them there. A fight breaks out. At this place their lives change dramatically for them, and the people close to them. They react in fear and make a situation worse. They return home and nothing will ever be the same.

Grace, Billy's mother has lived her life for this boy. He is her life in many ways. Buddy Harris the Sheriff of the town has protected Billy most of his life because of the Sheriff's love for Grace. Lee, Issac's sister has married a wealthy man and lives in Conneticut. She has a strange marriage but is trying to hold it together. She loves her brother and feels guilt for leaving him with their father. And, Issac's father, knows he has not been a loving father to his son. But Issac took care of him and now he is alone. All of these characters are larger than life in some ways. They protect each other from the truth, run the emotional gamut of deep depression and then hope for the future. However, there is some lassitude, they can't seem to get started until they are forced to make decisions. They are all like you and me, trying to live each day the best they can. Tragedy and despair, love and hope, keeping their wits together for a better day.

This is a novel for our times. Who knew that we might all be facing such tough economic times in the year 2009. The times are changing and this novel gives us a look into our future. They are us and we are them.
An extraordinary novel, an American tale told in terms of decaying, rusted towns. A moral equivalent that resonates with some of our great writers. Prose with such elegant descriptive terms that one can see the novel in front of us. A book to be remembered.

Highly Highly Recommended. prisrob 06-10-13
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Grim, but compelling and profound, 20 Jun. 2009
By 
Cartimand (Hampshire, UK.) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: American Rust (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Rust is an apt epithet for this novel concerned as it is with material and human decay.

Crumbling plaster and curled up wallpaper mirror the human entropy in a once-prosperous Pennsylvanian town. The characters are well-defined, but all suffer from the same general malaise - the older ones are just going through the motions of life, whilst the youngsters see opportunity and ambition evaporating around them. Sounds depressing, doesn't it? Particularly as we are currently suffering the worst financial circumstances since the Great Depression. Meyer's carefully crafted prose and occasionally startling and vivid turns of phrase carries it all off though. There are some great ideas in here, which will stay with you for a long time. For example, I loved Lee's sense of unease being described as a feeling that terrible things were in motion that would only be understood when it was too late. Simple but profound and resonant. 'Too late' is the key here. This could be seen as a potent wake-up call. Carpe diem - it's later than you think. A special mention too for the chapters set in gaol, which were particularly vivid.

The ending, I found rather abrupt, leaving several loose ends. I guess this is pretty well in keeping with a great many modern novels though, with the aim of leaving the reader yearning for more.

Perhaps American Rust is a bit too long - the dramatic highpoints are rather far apart, but the clever structure of switching characters with each chapter, makes this yarn easily consumable. I, for one, found the multiple viewpoints fascinating, although you may find yourself rushing through the Grace and Lee chapters to get to the more dynamic and thrilling Isaac and Poe ones.

To summarise, if you're after a feel good read, don't touch this. If you're happy to explore the darker side of the human condition, then American Rust is a solid, satisfying and memorable read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rust, decay and redemption, 6 Jun. 2009
By 
J. Cronin "dudara" (Ireland) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: American Rust (Paperback)
A rusty brad adorns one cover version of this debut novel from Philipp Meyer. Set in the Rust Belt of the USA, it is a story of a decaying community and the ties that bind the different inhabitants together.

It is two years since best friends Isaac English and Billy Poe graduated from high school, but they still haven't left their hometown. Brilliant Isaac didn't go to Berkely but stayed at home to mind his invalid father, who was injured in an accident in a steel mill. Billy, a talented football player, turned down the chance to leave town and go to college on a scholarship. However, Billy has a bent for trouble, and skirts the outside of the law, protected by the sheriff who is seeing Billy's mother.

The two contrasting friends find themselves in situation where a homeless vagrant end up dead, and so begins an insightful piece of crime fiction, as well as social commentary. Their friendship and loyalties are tested, as are those of their families and friends.

The author's descriptions of the once-bustling, now quiet towns, rusting steel mills and beautiful countryside add to the poignancy of the tale, where Meyer skillfully creates and builds his characters. With echoes of Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath" this is a masterful and intense debut from an author to watch in the future.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Promising Author, 18 Mar. 2010
By 
Jr Lorrimer "jlorrimer" (Oakworth) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: American Rust (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I kept this on my shelf for longer than normal, relegating it down my list of books to read after a poor series of novels had driven me to catch up on a few biographies. I was spurred on to pick it up after discovering a great review on a well respected forum and I'm glad I did. A lot of people have compared it to Steinbeck and it does have that small town folk tale ring about it - the contemporay setting isn't even that important - it could literally be set at any time in the last 100 years. I can see it becoming a great "buddy movie" - a tale of two mates who's lives and loyalties are changed overnight after a road trip goes wrong on the first night. I guess a lot of people would prefer a neater ending - with all the loose ends tied up, but real life stories aren't always like that and it doesn't make them any less greater for telling. Phillip Meyer is certainly a talent to keep an eye on. He captures moods and setting so well without getting bogged down in unnecessary detail. Well paced, engrossing and ultimately satisfying.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 210 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

American Rust
American Rust by Philipp Meyer
£5.99
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews