Written in an expansive style attentive to economics and generational shifts, The Parable of Rust offers a bird’s-eye view of a boom-bust cycle of the industrial Midwest, from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present day. Readers should not expect close analysis of the lives of interesting characters like Trey and his wife, the independent Anne, or the family philanthropist Cornelia. Williamson delves into two interesting conflicts—the dissonance between Trey’s nature and Selby’s concern for the health of the business, and the conflict between Louisa and her daughter-in-law Anne for the upbringing of the latter’s daughter, Drew—but never gives them the close-quarters analysis that makes for compelling drama.
Instead, the novel concerns broader shifts of history, deftly examining the macroeconomic impact of individual business fortunes–and those how those fortunes weathered a tumultuous century. By creating a micro-America in Rust, he attempts to portray the far reaching consequences and ripple effect created by business policies–some of them questionable, if not exactly illegal. Throughout, Williamson’s familiarity with the world of high finance is evident, and his command of the material is convincing.
Takeaway: A multi-generational, economics-minded saga of a Midwestern family, its wealth, and the American century.
Great for fans of: Charles Stiefel’s Skin Saga, Dan Baum’s Citizen Coors.
Design and typography: B
Marketing copy: B