‘American Rust’ Looks Like a Hit

Patricia Cornwell declared herself a fan by placing Philipp Meyer’s debut novel, American Rust in her most recent book, Scarpetta. Further, on her Web site, she says Meyer should win a Pulitzer.

Today, Michiko Kakutani gives the book a big thumbs up in the NY Times, putting it at three for three, having already received accolades from Ron Charles in the Washington Post as well as from the online Book Beast. The prepub reviews were more mixed.

The reviewers agree that the plot carries the reader along (even if Charles tempers that opinion a bit):

Michiko Kakutani — “[the] story acquires the sort of propulsive sense of inevitability that made Dennis Lehane’s novel Mystic River such natural material for a film adaptation.”

Ron Charles — “[main characters] Billy and Isaac’s Hamletesque indecision sometimes comes at the expense of the novel’s forward momentum, but the plot’s violent tension always reasserts itself.”

Book Beast —  “American Rust yanks you along right till the end.”

They also agree that it is a reflection of the times.

MK — “[the book] takes place in a small Pennsylvania steel town…a place where the jobs have disappeared, and foreclosures and meth use are on the rise, a town that makes longtime residents feel trapped and young people eager to flee, the sort of town profiled in newspaper and magazine articles about the fallout of the economic downturn on middle America and the tarnishing of the American Dream.”

RC — “In the most bracing terms, Meyer has calculated a poor economy’s human costs. He couldn’t have known as he worked on this backwoods story that he’d be publishing it at such an alarmingly relevant moment.”

Book Beast —  “American Rust combines the muscular pleasures of a Dennis Lehane thriller with a far-reaching meditation about where we’re headed as a country”

In addition to Lehane, reviewers are comparing the author to Cormac McCarthy, Richard Russo and Russell Banks.

American Rust is rising on Amazon and is now at #412, putting it on track to hit print bestseller lists. Libraries have bought it very lightly (single copies for the largest branches only). Reserves are building (the highest is 13 on 2 in one multi-branch system).


American Rust 
Meyer, Philipp

  • Hardcover: $24.95; 384 pages
  • Publisher: Spiegel & Grau (February 24, 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 0385527519
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385527514

Comments are closed.