Paul Hertneky

224 pp.

5.5 × 8.5, Paperback


May 2016





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.


“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

To see an excerpt of the book visit Littsburgh and for reviews visit our review page.

Be sure to also check out Paul Hertneky’s website and blog!


Over twenty-five years, Paul Hertneky has written stories, essays, and scripts for the Los Angeles ProheadshotB&WTimes, Boston Globe, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, NBC News, The Comedy Channel, Gourmet, Eating Well, Traveler’s Tales, The Exquisite Corpse, National Public Radio, Public Radio International, Adbusters, and many more. 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.