Rust Belt Boy: Stories of an American Childhood

Paul Hertneky (Author)


Paul Hertneky is one of millions of baby boomers who fled the industrial north upon fulfilling his parents' dreams of a college education. He returns to his roots in Ambridge, Pennsylvania in this collection of stories specific to one legendary riverfront plateau and one boy's journey, but emblematic of immigrant life and blue-collar aspirations during the heyday of American industry and its crash, foreshadowing one of the largest internal migrations in U.S. history.

Product Details

Bauhan Pub
Publish Date
May 03, 2016
5.4 X 0.6 X 8.4 inches | 0.6 pounds
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About the Author

Over twenty-five years, PAUL HERTNEKY has published in every medium. His work centers on culture, food, industry, the environment, and travel, winning him a Solas Award, and two James Beard Award nominations. A graduate of the Bennington Writing Seminars, he serves on the faculty of Chatham University and lives in Hancock, New Hampshire.


"I loved it. I haven't read a book in many years that made me feel so wistful, and grateful, as Rust Belt Boy. Given my own family history--my grandfather was a Pennsylvania coal miner who barely spoke English, my grandmother ran a Prohibition era saloon on the banks of the Susquehanna River--I felt Hertneky was writing a love letter to my own boyhood, and at the same time a Dear John letter, telling me goodbye to all that. If you're one of the six million baby boomers who walked away from a dying hometown, read this book and remember another America."--Bob Shacochis, National Book Award winner and author of Pulitzer finalist, The Woman Who Lost Her Soul
"The inside truth of a life, or a culture-of anything-cannot be tricked together. It has to grow from what's been bred in the bone and tested in the day's real living. Paul Hertneky's Rust Belt Boy has the savor of that living. It is a rueful, bittersweet expression of loss and a brave reenactment of memory."--Sven Birkerts, author of The Gutenberg Elegies and The Other Walk
"Rust Belt Boy brings to life, in loving, lyric detail, an essential but overlooked portrait of America's blue collar heart. Paul Hertneky is a splendid writer, by turns hilarious, tough, and tender. He's always honest, often revelatory, and never disappointing; his book deserves to become a classic."--Sy Montgomery, author of The Soul of an Octopus, National Book Award finalist
"[Hertneky] is honest, insightful, and empathetic about the rough life of many of the people who worked in . . . Aliquippa's steel works. . . . Most successfully, Hertneky depicts his own trajectory from the town to college and beyond in parallel with the history of Ambridge's."--Sy Montgomery, author of The Soul of an Octopus, National Book Award finalist "Publishers Weekly"