The Son

The Son

4.1 94
by Philipp Meyer
     
 

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Philipp Meyer, the acclaimed author of American Rust, returns with The Son: an epic of the American West and a multigenerational saga of power, blood, land, and oil that follows the rise of one unforgettable Texas family, from the Comanche raids of the 1800s to the to the oil booms of the 20th century.

Harrowing, panoramic, and deeply

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Overview

Philipp Meyer, the acclaimed author of American Rust, returns with The Son: an epic of the American West and a multigenerational saga of power, blood, land, and oil that follows the rise of one unforgettable Texas family, from the Comanche raids of the 1800s to the to the oil booms of the 20th century.

Harrowing, panoramic, and deeply evocative, The Son is a fully realized masterwork in the greatest tradition of the American canon—an unforgettable novel that combines the narrative prowess of Larry McMurtry with the knife-edge sharpness of Cormac McCarthy.

Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post - Ron Charles
What a pleasure it is…to see Meyer confirm all that initial enthusiasm [for American Rust] with a second book that's even more ambitious, even more deeply rooted in our troublesome economic and cultural history. With its vast scope—stretching from pre-Civil War cowboys to post-9/11 immigrants—The Son makes a viable claim to be a Great American Novel of the sort John Dos Passos and Frank Norris once produced. Here is the tale of the United States written in blood across the Texas plains, a 200-year cycle of theft and murder that shreds any golden myths of civilized development.
The New York Times Book Review - Will Blythe
Like Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian, it allows the past its otherness and its characters the dignity of blundering through the world as it was. These are not heroic transplants from the present, disguised in buckskin and loincloths. They are unrepentant, greedy, often homicidal lost souls, blindly groping their way through the 19th and 20th centuries, from the ordeals of the frontier to the more recent absurdities of celebrity culture…By the novel's end, Philipp Meyer has demonstrated that he can write a potboiler of the first rank, aswirl with pulpy pleasures: impossible love affairs, illicit sex, strife between fathers and sons, the unhappiness of the rich, the corruptions of power…But these crowd-pleasing qualities should not distract from Meyer's Spenglerian treatment of the American empire, Southwestern branch. Only in the greatest of historical novels do we come to feel both the distance of the past and our own likely complicity in the sins of a former age, had we been a part of it. To that rank, we now add The Son.
The New York Times - Janet Maslin
The greatest things about The Son are its scope and ambition…It's an enveloping, extremely well-wrought, popular novel with passionate convictions about the people, places and battles that it conjures.
Publishers Weekly
In chronicling the settlement and scourge of the American West, from the Comanche raids of the mid-19th century into the present era, Meyer never falters. The sweeping history of the McCullough dynasty unfolds across generations and through alternating remembrances of three masterfully drawn characters: Eli, the first white male born in a newly founded Texas, captured and raised by Comanche Indians; Eli’s self-sacrificing son, Peter, who shuns everything his power-hungry father represents; and Jeannie, Eli’s fiercely independent great-great-granddaughter, who inherits the family fortune. Chapters detailing Peter’s affair with a Mexican neighbor and his moral struggle with his ancestors’ bloody legacy are keenly balanced alongside those involving Jeannie’s firm yet impassive rule over the modern McCullough estate. But it’s the engrossing, sometimes grotesque descriptions of Eli’s early tribal years—scalpings, mating rituals, and a fascinating few pages about the use of buffalo body parts that recalls Moby Dick—that are the stuff of Great American Literature. Like all destined classics, Meyer’s second novel (after American Rust) speaks volumes about humanity—our insatiable greed, our inherent frailty, the endless cycle of conquer or be conquered. So, too, his characters’ successes and failures serve as a constant reminder: “There is nothing we will not have mastered, except, of course, ourselves.” Agent: Eric Simonoff, WME Entertainment. (June)
Kirkus Reviews
The sins of the fathers are always visited upon the sons--and in Meyer's sweeping, absorbing epic, there are plenty of them. As the first child born in the new Republic of Texas, or so it's said, Eli McCullough fills big shoes. Yet he stands in the shadow of his older brother, who reads books and has a strange attachment to his sister--one that will be cut short when Comanches descend and, in a spree worthy of Cormac McCarthy, put an end to all that: "My mother had not made a sound since I woke up, even with the arrows sticking out of her, but she began to scream and cry when they scalped her, and I saw another Indian walking up to her with my father's broadax." Years living in semicaptivity with the Comanches teaches Eli a thing or two about setting goals and sticking to them, as well as a ruthlessness that will come in handy when he begins to build a cattle empire and accrue political power. His son is less deft; caught up in the cross-border upheaval of the Mexican Revolution, he finds himself out of place and adrift ("You're a big man," says one ranch hand to him, "and I don't see why you act like such a small one") and certainly no favorite of his ever-demanding father. Meyer's sophomore novel deftly opens with entwined, impending deaths across generations, joining tangled stories over three centuries, the contested line between the U.S. and Mexico, and very different cultures; if sometimes it hints of McMurtry's Lonesome Dove and Ferber's Giant, it more often partakes of the somber, doomed certainty of Faulkner: "There had been one grandson everyone liked, who had loved the ranch and been expected to take it over, but he had drowned in three feet of water." An expertly written tale of ancient crimes, with every period detail--and every detail, period--just right.
Kevin Powers
“The story of our founding mythology; of the men and women who tore a country from the wilderness and the price paid in blood by subsequent generations. An epic in the tradition of Faulkner and Melville, this is the work of a writer at the height of his power.”
Huffington Post
“A novel that is an epic in the truest sense of the word: massive in scope, replete with transformations in fortune and fate, and drenched in the blood of war.”
Booklist (starred review)
“Meyer’s massive Texas saga is perhaps the best Indian captive story ever written. . . [Meyer’s] tale is best compared to Giant. Little Big Man and Lonesome Dove also come to mind...”
Kate Atkinson
“One word--stunning. The Son stands fair to hold its own in the canon of Great American Novels. A book that for once really does deserve to be called a masterpiece.”
Richard Ford
“Meyer is an impressive and multi-talented story-teller in the old, good sense--the kind that makes me hang on for whatever the next chapter will hold.”
Charles Frazier
“A remarkable, beautifully crafted novel. Meyer tackles large movements of American history and culture yet also delivers page-turning delights of story and character.”
Tea Obreht
Philipp Meyer redrafts humanity’s oldest questions and deepest obsessions into something so raw and dazzling and brutal and real, The Son should come with its own soundtrack
Karen Russell
“A true American epic, full of brutal poetry and breathtaking panoramas. Meyer’s characters repeatedly bear witness to the collision of human greed, savagery, and desire with the mute and indomitable Plains landscape. Meyer is a writer of tremendous talent, compassion and ambition.—The Son is a staggering achievement.”
Chris Cleave
“An epic, heroic, hallucinatory work of art in which wry modern tropes and savage Western lore hunt together on an endless prairie... a horribly tragic, disturbingly comic and fiercely passionate masterpiece of storytelling.”
Esquire
“This is the book you want to read this summer... Every facet of Meyer’s world--scent and sight and sensation--has weight and heft... Meyer’s dream is a nightmare in which blood seeks power. It’s also un-put-down-able.”
Parade
“An old-fashioned family saga set against the birth of Texas and the modern West, this is a riveting slow burn of love, power, and a legacy of violence spanning generations. Meyer is a writer of vast ambition and talent, and he has created nothing less than an American epic.”
Washington Post
“With its vast scope, The Son makes a viable claim to be a Great American Novel of the sort John Dos Passos and Frank Norris once produced... an extraordinary orchestration of American history.
Wall Street Journal
“There is an extravagant quantity of birth, death and bitter passion in Philipp Meyer’s grand and engrossing Texas saga.”
Los Angeles Times
“Philipp Meyer offers a tale that spans generations and, in its own way, encapsulates the history of the state itself.”
USA Today (4 Stars)
“As bold, ambitious and brutal as its subject: the rise of Texas as seen through the tortured history of one family. At 561 pages, The Son is a demanding read... But by the end, Meyer ties it together and not too neatly. Tougher-than-tough Eli McCullough would respect that.”
NPR
“One of the most solid, unsparing pieces of American historical fiction to come out this century... a brilliant chronicle of Texas... stunning, raw and epic... The Son is vast, brave and, finally, unstoppable.”
New York Times
“The greatest things about The Son are its scope and ambition. . . It’s an enveloping, extremely well-wrought, popular novel with passionate convictions about the people, places and battles that it conjures.”
New York Times Book Review
“An epic of the American Southwest, Meyer’s masterly second novel follows several generations of a Texas ranching and oil dynasty through the 19th and 20th centuries…”
Washington Independent Review of Books
“One of those books that remind you how totally absorbing a novel can be... the work of an uncommonly visionary and skillful writer with a superb sense of pacing... a beautiful, violent and frequently heartbreaking book, but it is not without a sense of fun.”
Austin Chronicle
“A vivid, unflinching look at the peoples who struggled to conquer Texas, and one another. . . an aerial view of Texas, in which hidden elements of a huge, breathtaking landscape are suddenly made clear.”
Boston Globe
“Meyer’s tale is vast, volcanic, prodigious in violence, intermittently hard to fathom, not infrequently hard to stomach, and difficult to ignore.”
CNN Online (Hot Reads for June)
“Ambitious readers who take their prose seriously should grab a copy of The Son, a stunning work of historical fiction by Philipp Meyer. Scores of critics are gushing over the book calling it epic, one of the best of the year, even an American classic.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer
The Son is positioned to seduce readers who swooned for Lonesome Dove and 2011’s briskly selling Comanche history, Empire of the Summer Moon.
Entertainment Weekly (Grade A Review)
“It may not be the Great American Novel, but it certainly is a damn good one.”
Dallas Observer
“One of the best books I’ve ever read . . . Incredibly ambitious and rich, and it reminds me of Blood Meridian and As I Lay Dying. Faulkner and McCarthy fans should definitely check it out.”
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The Son drives home one hard and fascinating truth about American life: None of us belong here. We just have it on loan until the next civilization comes around.”
Pittsburg Post-Gazette
“Mr. Meyer’s version of how a white child grows into the culture of a Comanche warrior is so vivid, violent, heartless and tender at the same time that I often put the book down to recover from the scenes, then picked it up, eager to follow the narrative.”
Dayton Daily News
“Meyer has penned another masterpiece of American fiction. Read it and see if you don’t agree.”
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
The Son is a true American original. Meyer describes the Comanche as ‘riding to haul hell out of its shuck.’ It’s an apt description of how it feels to read this exciting, far-reaching book.”
Eagle (Bryan-College Station
“. . . a raw and gritty novel not for the faint-hearted.”
Chapter 16
“. . . Involving and moving novel. Meyer’s work deserves its place among the great epics of Texas; even more, his vision of the state will change the way readers understand and judge its history and its folklore.”
USA Today
“Philipp Meyer’s epic novel begins in 1849, when Eli McCullough, 13, is kidnapped by Comanches, and ends in 2012 as Eli’s rich and powerful great-granddaughter is dying. USA TODAY says **** out of four.”
the Oprah Magazine O
“In gorgeously gritty prose, this epic novel follows three generations of the McCullough family - as wild as the untamed Texas frontier where they’ve settled - in their ruthless quest for power. (Ten Titles To Pick Up Now)”
Entertainment Weekly Review
“It may not be the Great American Novel, but it certainly is a damn good one.”
O: the Oprah Magazine
“In gorgeously gritty prose, this epic novel follows three generations of the McCullough family - as wild as the untamed Texas frontier where they’ve settled - in their ruthless quest for power. (Ten Titles To Pick Up Now)”
Financial Times
“. . . Meyer’s brilliant second novel . . . The writing is strong - ‘riders were suddening out of the trees’ - and rich with detail. . . Just like Meyer’s riveting 2009 debut American Rust, this is a wonderful novel.”
Men's Journal
“This is an endlessly absorbing book, a page-turner with serious moral scope, both full of feeling and ruthlessly engineered, as great books are, to get us closer to the truth about ourselves.”
Santa Fe New Mexican
The Son clearly demonstrates how a well-written, thoroughly researched work of fiction illuminates the past. . . ‘No land was ever acquired honestly in the history of the earth,’ Eli maintains. An outstanding novelist has tilled this fertile ground.”
Examiner.com
“Critics have compared the writing to Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove or any of Cormac McCarthy’s novels. Anyone who likes a Western saga will find plenty to savor in this latest work from a distinguished spinner of Western yarns.”
Library Journal
Eli McCullough, the first male child born in the Republic of Texas, is kidnapped at age 13 by Comanches, and from then on his life becomes a study in conflict. During three years of living with the Indians, he wins their respect and is thought of as an upcoming chief. But by the time he turns 16, having mastered the art of scalping, he is set free. Forever restless, he becomes a Texas Ranger, a cattle rancher, and, later, a colonel in the Civil War. His son, Pete, is cut from a different cloth and rebels against his family's history of violence and anti-Mexican racism. His rebellion includes the love of a Mexican woman. Pete's daughter, Jeanne Anne, struggles to be taken seriously as a rancher and oil tycoon. The broody McCulloughs gain in wealth but often pay dearly. A strain of misunderstood lonesomeness hounds each generation. VERDICT Treading on similar ground to James Michener, Larry McMurtry, and Cormac McCarthy, Guggenheim Fellowship-winner Meyer (American Rust) brings the bloody, racially fraught history of Texas to life. Call it a family saga or an epic, this novel is a violent and harrowing read. [See Prepub Alert, 11/30/12.]—Keddy Ann Outlaw, formerly with Harris Cty. P. L., Houston

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062120397
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
05/28/2013
Pages:
560
Sales rank:
435,005
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.80(d)
Lexile:
930L (what's this?)

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