Sunday, August 1, 2010
Philipp Meyer - American Rust (Spiegel & Grau, 2009) *****
That's the backdrop for this story, which is in essence about values. First of all moral values. About justice, about right and wrong, about culpability and responsibility. Those are set against family values : full support despite everything, or acceptance for opportunistic reasons.
Despite the bleak economic background and the heavy themes, the novel is one of the most pleasurable you will read in a long time, not only because of the variety of styles in which the different characters tell their story and the events that take place, but also because it is so absolutely vibrant with life, in every sentence and paragraph, making you want to read on and on and on.
In the beginning of the story, Isaac English, a brainy kid kills a bum, and runs away from home in order to avoid the consequences. This sets in motion a series of events and stories, each told from the perspective of the other key protagonists: his best friend Billy Poe, his sister, the sheriff, ...
The style, the structure, the plot, the depth and the clarity of the world created, the different layers of meaning, the entertainment factor, all make this one of the best books you will probably read in years.
With his debut novel, Meyer earned himself a place among the great American novelists.