Friday, 15 May 2009

American Rust by Philipp Meyer

Simon & Schuster
American, eh?
Big American Novel of the year. Blurb by Colm Toibin - “dramatic integrity and pace” - lots of online play. One to watch. Carry this around and your cred is steady.
Male, then?
Very. Pals Isaac and Poe run into trouble when they meet some bums intent on exploring their bums.
Eww! Male rape?
Calm down. Nothing so graphic. Only murder. Isaac is running away to go to Stanford and become a rocket scientist. Poe’s the local football star.
I sense American heartland
Smart kid - yes, we’re in Pennsylvania steel country, where a generation ago skilled men could earn $30 an hour. Now it’s Depression country, with everyone fighting over a job in Wal-Mart.
Not a comfy family novel?
Plenty of family, though. Isaac is minding his grampaw while his brilliant sister makes a success after Yale. Poe’s mom has crazy sex with his transient dad in their double-wide trailer, while keeping the faithful sheriff on a string.
Cheery stuff
Mm. It starts “Isaac’s mother was dead five years but he hadn’t stopped thinking about her”. It’s gritty - but it’s really good, if you’re brave enough to read it.
Who’s this Philipp Meyer?
Volunteered in a trauma centre in Baltimore (where he’s from - the town The Wire is set in), went back to study English in Cornell, worked as a derivatives trader, builder, ambulance man, yada, yada.
Any hot sex?
Isaac’s sister comes home to sort out the problems. She’s married now - but she’s always been Poe’s sweetie, and their sweet tooth takes over. Hurt, Isaac heads for California again.
Problem solved?
Puhlease. This is the Great American Novel of the year. Problems don’t get solved in those, just probed like a sore gum. No, Poe is now in the hot seat, facing trial for murder if things go really wrong.
And do they?
What am I, your personal reader? Read it yourself and find out.
Publisher's site

1 comment:

Rose City Reader said...

Good review! I had mixed feelings about this one. My review is here:

If you want me to post a link to your review, please leave a comment on mine. I don't like to link without permission unless I'm already blogger buddies with the reviewer.