Our patience has been rewarded.
On May 28, Ecco Books will release author Philipp Meyer's newest novel, The Son. And we declare it to be wonderful. A multi-generational saga set in Texas from the mid-19th century until more modern times, The Son is the story of America. Or rather, America as represented by the McCullough family. The Comanche Wars, the Civil War, the boom and bust of cattle, the discovery of oil, two World Wars....this family has seen it all.
"I don't have to tell you what this land used to look like," he said. "And you don't have to tell me that I am the one who ruined it. Which I did, my own hands, and ruined forever."
It is the telling of the story that makes this novel lush and indulgent as Meyer presents their family saga in a non-linear format. Each chapter is devoted to a different family member, each in a different era, each with their own unique experience of what it means to be a McCullough.
From Eli, captured by the Comanche at a young age, we come to understand what the land meant to the original settlers ("...he is not of our time; he is like some fossil come out of a stream bank or a trench in the ocean, from a time in history when you took what you wanted and did not see any reason to justify.").
From Peter, a McCullough with a social conscious far ahead of his time, we watch the growth of the McCullough fortune and the dubious means to obtain that fortune ("We are the darlings of the capital for killing nineteen of our neighbors and getting two family members shot in the process.").
From Jeannie, the girl who had to be a man, we see the decline of the family even as their wealth grows exponentially ("if she were being honest, honest in a way she was only allowing herself to be right now, her children had taken far more than they could ever give.").
"People continued to arrive at the house, bringing cakes, roasts, and regrets that they had not been able to reach us in time to help - how brave we were to assault the Mexicans with such a small force. By that they mean seventy-three against ten. Fifteen if you could the women. Nineteen if you count the children."
To read The Son means to lose oneself completely to the story of America. It is heartbreaking and beautiful in it's struggle, not one whit romanticized. It is, in a word, gorgeous. If you're attending Book Expo this year, be on the lookout for it!
Title: The Son
Author: Philipp Meyer
Publisher: Ecco Books
Source: Advance Copy courtesy of Ecco Books
Rating: 5 STARS. Absolutely, 5 stars.