Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Seven novels about the beauty & hardship of life in rural America

Jordan Farmer was born and raised in a small West Virginia town, population approximately two thousand. He earned his MA from Marshall University and his Ph.D. at The University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

His new novel is The Poison Flood.

At Electric Lit, Farmer tagged seven novels about the beauty and hardship of life in rural America, including:
American Rust by Philipp Meyer

After missing out on college to take care of his ailing father, Isaac English decides to leave Buell, Pennsylvania, the fictional, economically destitute steel town Meyer uses to represent the very real parts of America abandoned by prosperity. Recruiting his best friend, Billy Poe, the two set out on a doomed exodus that is sidetracked by an act of violence. Meyer smoothly transitions to others in Buell like Chief Bud Harris, who is busy policing a town with increasing crime, and Isaac’s sister, Lee, currently attending Yale University and experiencing the uncomfortable truth that her birthplace will keep her from fitting into her new privileged environment. Those circulating the more prominent Isaac and Billy could feel like distracted digressions, but none of the large cast are underdeveloped. Written in a Modernist influenced stream of consciousness reminiscent of literary giants like Wolfe, Joyce, and Faulkner, Meyer’s prose never delves into imitation. Social class, masculinity, family obligation, and the other well-explored literary themes never feel tired. Frankly, it’s the sort of debut novel that makes other writers jealous.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: American Rust.

--Marshal Zeringue