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Friday, December 27, 2013

Book Review - The Son by Philipp Meyer

It's the calm after Christmas and I am taking some time to catch up on books that I intended to read and had not gotten around to this year.  One of those is "The Son" by Philipp Meyer.

About The Book:

Part epic of Texas, part classic coming-of-age story, part unflinching portrait of the bloody price of power, The Son is an utterly transporting novel that maps the legacy of violence in the American West through the lives of the McCulloughs, an ambitious family as resilient and dangerous as the land they claim.

Eli McCullough is thirteen years old when a marauding band of Comanche storm his homestead and take him captive. Brave and clever, Eli quickly adapts to Comanche life, carving a place as the chief's adopted son, and waging war against their enemies, including white men. But when disease, starvation, and overwhelming numbers of armed Americans decimate the tribe, Eli finds himself alone. Neither white nor Indian, civilized or fully wild, he must carve a place for himself in a world in which he does not fully belong—a journey of adventure, tragedy, hardship, grit, and luck that reverberates in the lives of his progeny.

My Thoughts:

I have grown up in "Larry McMurtry" country, and anyone knows McMurtry's work knows that he is the quintessential Texas author. His "Lonesome Dove" series is a master-work in Texas sagas. So I went into reading Philipp Meyer's "The Son" with a bit of skepticism that anyone could write a better historical fiction about Texas.  But I will have to say that Meyer does a fairly credible job with this long, but interesting story of generational family drama in the Lone Star State.

"The Son" is broken up into several viewpoints. The story of the patriarch Eli McCullough was the most fascinating for me - the young boy who was taken by Indians and raised in their ways, and who struggled to relate to the white man's world later in life. I could see the entire book being devoted to Eli's story, but Meyer also includes the story of several others of Eli's family that ties the story of the entire family together.

I would recommend this book for those who enjoy long family sagas, those who have an interest in early Texas, and for those who enjoy historical fiction.

About The Author:

Philipp Meyer is the author of the critically lauded novel American Rust, winner of the 2009 Los Angeles Times Book Prize. It was an Economist Book of the Year, a Washington Post Top Ten Book of the Year, and a New York Times Notable Book. He is a graduate of Cornell University and has an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin, where he was a James Michener Fellow. A native of Baltimore, he now lives mostly in Texas.

My thanks to Ecco Books for the review copy of this novel. I was not compensated for my opinion.

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