The first time I heard of Philipp Meyer's American Rust was in a Bat Segundo show with Patricia Cornwell, the mystery veteran, who praised the debut novel. I filed the name of the book away. Then some time later I read a glowing review from Michiko Kakutani; if Meyer could please her, could he please anybody? There were other good reviews, which I can't remember specifically, and I was convinced to read American Rust.
Does it live up to the hype? I would say it does. I found it hard to put down: the plot and characters are believable and authentic. It reminded me of Mystic River, who Kakutani mentioned, but Meyer doesn't rely on any twists. Every action seemed inevitable in the way that Meyer was recalling history. It was truth as much as it was fiction.
Verdict: Read this book.