American Rust — review

This is a good time to read Philipp Meyer’s novel American Rust. This is a good time to take note that America’s president, who promised to help the hard-working backbone of American manufacturing toiling in mills, mines and swamps, is now telling the same unrelieved people to re-elect him by committing voter fraud. Read American Rust to know what has happened to those voters. The Dude has not kept any of his promises to them to Make America Great Again.

And this is a good time to read American Rust because it will help us see the reality, in stark visuals, of what such a president, and the legacy of such a president, has done and is doing to young people in this country.

Satanic Mills

This country has always been based on certain amounts of casual but intentional, regular violence. Even so, American Rust tells the sordid tale of the last twenty-odd years. They’ve been a time of crushing the bones and sinews of America. They’ve brought to their knees descendants of the post-war boom when Americans took pride in “made in America.” They are now living through an economic violence that is unprecedented even in the annals of barbarity.

Meyer sets his novel in the Mon Valley of Pennsylvania, around Pittsburgh. Once prosperity and middle-class aspirations were built there on moving earth and ore. Now the gutting of that whole world and way of life, the fine-honed betrayal of the vulcans and titans, has spawned crime and violence. They are largely driven by a lack of hope, options and desperation.

Young men and women of the valley try their hardest to leave as soon as possible, burying deep inside their souls the reality of collective and individual trauma. To do otherwise, to remain compassionate and sentient, would be to die.

Meyer is a talented novelist who knows not to end the story on a completely hopeless note. Even after taking us through the slathering jaws of economic armageddon and the disembowelment of dreams and hope, through the infernal lightless prisons, through unremitting institutional violence, he knows to end the novel on notes of possibility, of new beginnings. Maybe on faint notes of the famous second chance of which too, supposedly, America is still the icon.

Read Phillip Meyer’s American Rust before November 3 , 2020 to recall why lives depend on sending the plutocrats back to their underworld, to the shadowy, nauseous caverns and recesses from which they emerged, once and for all.

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