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'...when the mills shut down the entire Valley had collapsed. Steel had been the heart. He wondered how long it would be before it all rusted away to nothing and the Valley returned to a primitive state. Only the stone would last.' A heart-wrenching, unputdownable tale of redemption and survival in small-town America in the tradition of Richard Ford, Pete Dexter and Cormac McCarthy. American Rust tells the story of two friends, one, Isaac, a smart nerd who is desperate to escape the run-down dying steel town of his childhood but is stuck there looking after his invalid father, the other, Poe, a former sporting hero who's already past his prime and has missed the chance to make it big in another place. Isaac plucks up the courage to leave town, but on the way out fate intervenes and a criminal vagrant is killed in self-defence. The police chief suspects hot-tempered Poe, whom he has helped out of a charge in the past because of the chief's close relationship with Poe's mother, but the truth is very different. The book is told from the perspectives of Isaac, Poe, Poe's mother Grace, Isaac's sister Lee and the police chief Harris, who is involved with Grace. It reads like the story behind a Springsteen song (Thunder Road, maybe), The Deerhunter 30 years on, Shakespeare meets Cormac McCarthy, the underbelly of the American Dream. Philipp Meyer is a singular talent and American Rust is one of those rare novels that hands you a whole world, created so perfectly that you know it already, and forever, though you were a stranger to it before reading this manuscript. A contemporary book in which the word 'damnation' feels at home and where nothing separates love and pain. This is a book of revelations, told as cleanly and deliberately as a blade-cut, with a powerful, humbling wisdom. It will take your breath away.
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