#Blogblast Rust by Eliese Colette Goldbach @QuercusBooks @Katyaellis_ #Rust #ElieseColetteGoldbach

Rust by Eliese Colette Goldbach
Quercus Books March 3rd 2020

Eliese wasn’t supposed to be a steelworker. Raised by staunchly Republican and Catholic parents, Eliese dreamed of escaping Cleveland and achieving greatness in the convent as a nun. Full of promise and burgeoning ideals, she leaves her hometown, but one night her life’s course is violently altered. A night that sets her mind reeling and her dreams waning. A cycle of mania and depression sinks in where once there were miracles and prayers, and upon returning home she is diagnosed with mixed-state bipolar disorder.

Set on a path she doesn’t recognize as her own, Eliese finds herself under the orange flame of Cleveland’s notorious steel mill, applying for a job that could be her ticket to regaining stability and salvation. In Rust, Eliese invites the reader inside the belly of the mill. Steel is the only thing that shines amid the molten iron, towering cranes, and churning mills. Dust settles on everything – on forklifts and hard hats, on men with forgotten hopes and lives cut short by harsh working conditions, on a dismissed blue-collar living and on what’s left of the American dream.

But Eliese discovers solace in the tumultuous world of steel, unearthing a love and a need for her hometown she didn’t know existed. This is the story of the humanity Eliese finds in the most unlikely of places and the wisdom that comes from the very things we try to run away from most. A reclamation of roots, Rust is a shining debut memoir of grit and tenacity and the hope that therefore begins to grow.

My Review

I don’t read non-fiction very often and it has to be something that triggers my enquiring mind to entice me. Rust definitely tweaked my interest, it’s subject Eliese Goldbach and the Cleveland steel industry sounded both unusual and unique.

It was an extraordinary, and inspirational story as Goldbach mixed the personal with the political, history with religion.

It was personal in her struggle with bipolar disorder, the struggle to maintain normality, to control and recognise the manic periods. She gave us a wonderful insight into her Catholic upbringing, the role of the religion in her life, the constraints it placed on her, the wrestle with modern society.

It was Goldbach’s unflinching honesty that you admired, her ability to see her failings but also her determination to succeed in the steel industry.

It was this side to her story that I found utterly fascinating, my knowledge practically nonexistent. It’s was an industry based in a city she almost seemed to view with derision, a city she wanted to escape. The need for a job with money drove her to apply, to work in a harsh and dangerous environment, that pushed her to the limits. Plunged into its midst, Goldbach’s narrative brilliantly showcased the workings of a steel mill, the heat, the cranes, the arduousness of the work, but more than anything the colleagues she worked alongside. From all walks of life, you could see her growing respect, her opinions of them and the industry changing. American politics crept into the narrative, the rise of Donald Trump, the anger she felt at the representation of a city and an industry she had grown to love.

Goldbach didn’t lecture, her views never overbearing but woven into her own personal life and the impact it began to have.

It wasn’t until the latter part of the book that Goldbach revealed the event in her life that seemed to have triggered her bipolar, and indeed her inner struggles. The aftermath, in such a modern society made you angry, but also made you admire Goldbach even more, gave you a deeper understanding of her actions and why she felt she had to prove to herself and others that she could succeed.

Rust was a journey into industrial America, of a woman who found a genuine love and respect for its people and the city of Cleveland. It was also about self discovery, of learning to live with past events, to reconcile and to succeed on her own terms. To me it’s was utterly fascinating, unflinching and inspirational.

I would like to thank Quercus for a copy of Rust to read and review and to Katya Ellis for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blog blast.

About the author

Eliese Goldbach is a steelworker at the ArcelorMittal Cleveland Temper Mill. She received an MFA in nonfiction from the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts Program. Her writing has appeared in Ploughshares, Western Humanities Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and Best American Essays 2017. She received the Ploughshares Emerging Writer’s Award and a Walter Rumsey Marvin Grant from the Ohioana Library Association, which is given to a young Ohio writer of promise.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: