Stitch and Bear

A long-running Irish blog with reviews of the best restaurants in Dublin and throughout Ireland. Some wine and cocktails thrown in for good measure!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

American Rust - Philipp Meyer

A rusty brad adorns the cover 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.

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