A Memoir of Steel and Grit
Eliese Colette Goldbach
“In scene after vivid scene, Goldbach brings to life the massive campus, the worn down and crotchety workers, the heat, the machinery, the dust, the physically grueling and dangerous work.”
—Laurie Hertzel, The Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
To ArcelorMittal Steel, Eliese is known as #6691: Utility Worker. But this was never her dream. Fresh out of college, eager to leave behind her conservative hometown and come to terms with her Christian roots, Eliese found herself applying for a job at the local steel mill. The mill is everything she was trying to escape, but it’s also her only shot at financial security in an economically devastated and forgotten part of America. In Rust, Eliese invites the reader inside the belly of the mill and the Middle American upbringing that brought her there in the first place. She takes a long and intimate look at her Rust Belt childhood and struggles to reconcile her desire to leave without turning her back on the people she’s come to love. The people she sees as the unsung backbone of our nation. Faced with the financial promise of a steelworker’s paycheck and the very real danger of working in an environment where a steel coil could crush you at any moment or a vat of molten iron could explode because of a single drop of water, Eliese finds unexpected warmth and camaraderie among the gruff men she labors beside each day. Appealing to readers of Hillbilly Elegy and Educated, Rust is a story of the humanity Eliese discovers in the most unlikely and hellish of places, and the hope that therefore begins to grow.
Eliese Colette Goldbach was a steelworker at ArcelorMittal Cleveland. She received an M.F.A. 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 The 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. She now works at John Carroll University and lives in Cleveland with her husband.