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Harsh. That's the way it was and the way it still is. Nothing prettified, no glory. This is a good solid historical work of fiction but the reality, because most fiction is based on some fact, is unsettling.
Texas before the Civil War, thirteen year old boy captured and brought up by the Commanche, ruthless lust for land and money, complex sympathetic characters, a family saga that stretches from before the Civil War to the 21st century. Overall, a fabulous read!
I have been doing some heavy duty reading in politics and theology and found myself needing a break. I was attracted to "The Son" when I watched the first 30-40 minutes of the recently released movie. I purposefully stop watching the movie so I would get the full impact from the book first.
When I started "The Son", immediately the difference from what I saw in the movie and what I was reading was dramatically different [and that is a surprise to who?]. I was immediately drawn in and intrigued from the very first page. If any of you readers (listeners) have read "Lonesome Dove" and hopefully the series, you should get this book. Not that these two are the same, but the similarities in style, authenticity of time, life, events, etc., are similar. Simply put, it is the not the glorious romanticized days of cowboys and Indians. Not at all, you see the life and times as they probably really were; and it a dark picture.
Philipp Meyer provides the reader with the life and times of different members of the same family throughout different times and generations. I will say, it took of getting used to at first, because you jump from the very early 1800's all the way up to the late 2000's. Each character a different generation, a different time, different events effecting them and their families. At the same time, Mr. Meyer effectively kept these lives and generations woven together by a single thread, the family; the land, their pride and prosperity.
The story; a reflection on life! It is stark, it is cold, and it is certainly dark. The descriptions of the sheer deprivation of what one man can do to another, the prejudices and hatred, combined with the rationalization and justification of our actions, for the purposes of our deeds, the cost on family and loved ones, and all the other aspects of life, is told with naked realism and bluntness. You follow the characters from youth to death, seeing all aspects of life from youthful vigor, exuberance, and optimism, to the waining days of old age, mellowed, tempered, reflective, and certainly regretful.
So many aspects of life; people, times, are so masterfully intertwined throughout this book. I certainly had a lot to think about when I finished this book, and Philipp Meyer ended it, I believe, with the intent of leaving the reader to be contemplative and reflective, not so much about the story, but about life; well done.
This is book you should add to your reading list. You will not be disappointed.
I do not feel worthy of reviewing this piece which is by far the best novel I've read since Skagboys. Philpp M. makes Irvine Welsh look like Trump tweeting at 3:00 a.m. He's like the impossible love child of Quentin Tarantino and Cormac McCarthy. This book flooded me with memories of family secrets told too late to make a difference. Like the first time I was dying and someone finally told me about my sweet Mormon grandmother who before the Latter Day Saint days would slam two fifths of vodka, storm off and come back later threatening to kill grandpa with her new boyfriend from the bar. Now it made sense why mom moved to LA to be near her boyfriend's prison and I couldn't stop smoking God's Breath. This piece had everything I love including nihilism, overwhelming depression and the existential morose at the uselessness and futility of life knowing that for 2 million years man has been stealing land and life from other men and hardly anything exists to show they were even here. Of course those "savages" did not know you could rape the earth, till the soil, plant cement and slow kill an entire planet with Round Up while everyone cheered for their sports ball team around the coal fueled TV set.
This excellent book starts in 1836 in Texas when the west was the new frontier. It covers the stories of Eli McCulloughs, his son Peter and his great grandaughter Jeanne in alternating chapters.It is the struggle of the blood, sweat and tears (and there was plenty of all 3) that went into settling the state of Texas. The hostility between the Commanche and the Whites, the injustices done to the Mexicans and the development of the oil industry are all key factors in this story. Be warned it is a little brutal in places but don't let that stop you from picking up this l book. It will be one of my favourites this year.
But I have doubts about the structure. Though it suited my schedule taking breaks without the compromise of memory fading or thoughts disconnected, 3 storylines are intertwined in a way arbitrary (or trying to stimulate readers' mind?), e.g. a storyline followed by an episode (chapter) from another storyline is more interrupting than making mutual sense or sound echoed.
Eli's version and Peter's diaries are time-ordered, with more tangible correlations, and brought Eli, the Son #1, the fullest figure.
Jeannie's version, mostly due to vast materials spanning her whole >80 years life, plus sparkles of her illusion, nice touch of magic realism though, made her a vague and conflicting figure (contrary to many who might think her as a clear strong woman in a men's world, the Son #3, if Peter is #2?).
Impressive writings with historical details, though I sometimes lost in Indian and Spanish dialect, I always saw vivid scenes, splendid landscape, cruelty of the actions....how Perter's shadowed memory was erased by the love with Maria - one of the most beautiful chapters.
I'm intrigued by ending, Ulises was escaping in modern days, a (Indian/Cohuila?) boy of 9 years (in Eli's version) was left on the riverbank in 1881... mythical.
An "epic" of 200 years of Texan history told through the stories of three generations of a family which heads a cattle and oil dynasty. It tells the story of the founding of the state based on greed and savagery. With this book and his earlier, "American Rust", Meyer is building a mosaic of the US. Very well-written and interesting.
This book is disturbing at times (the vivid violence and historical perspective). It takes place over about 100 years, in Texas and voiced by three generations of one family. It's a compelling read.
This is one of the best books I have ever read. It brought tears to my eyes and well as laughter that was out loud. Loved it! Eli's story moved me more than any of the others, but I enjoyed them all. It really makes you think about America and what went into creating and developing this country. The people who came before us and the people to come after....not something you contemplate every day.
I really enjoyed this book. Big family saga type story. You don't have to be a reader of westerns to enjoy this book. Good historical fiction.
This epic Western was really good. it was difficult in the beginning, I kept referring to the lineage chart at the front of the book, and then realized that one of the characters went by another name in the book. Near the end, i just read one characters chapters at a time because the chapters are designed to tell the story from three different characters at different times in history. It confirmed my suspicions about how land was acquired. As I finished it, I realized it was a love story, each character was in love with something, but only one found true love.
Philipp Meyer's THE SON quickly proves why it was on so many best of 2013 lists. A post-modern multi-generational saga, the novel spans multiple generations of the McCullough family, including the patriarch Eli, the first child born in the state after admittance, who was kidnapped as a young teen, his family slaughtered, and spent several years as a member of the Comanche tribe. He later returns, joins the Texas Rangers and then the Confederate Army, where he makes his fortune and begins the McCullough dynasty. If Eli's story is the driving force of the novel, his son, Peter, is the heart: we learn through letters that Peter is the character who accepts the burden of the ruthless way his father mastered the land, and pays for the sins the family accumulates along with its riches. we also meet Peter's granddaughter Jeannie, who has much in common with Eli but is made to feel out of place running an oil company among several other business interests in the Texas boy's club. Breathtaking, lyrical, brutal, and raw, Philipp Meyer writes an American story for the ages, with enough to please almost everyone.
Also, if you're a fan of audiobooks, check out the audio version, as the reading is profoundly excellent.
This system needs to link all formats to all comments for a complete review. Will Patton is the reader of excellence.
Texas.The giant state.Land. Cattle. Oil.Comanches. Mexicans.How the West was won and at what cost all round. I found the McCullough/Garcia saga told by the various family members down the generations but in no chronological order, fascinating.Excellently written, totally amoral and horrific in parts, beautiful in others.A memorable read but not for the faint-hearted.
Fascinating and hard to put down for a couple hundred pages - but then the jump cutting among generations starts to feel like a failure of organization. I could be wrong. I have yet to figure out how the Son became the Colonel.
Interesting book but very slow. Found it got better near the end. It's not a book I would normally read, but it had a lot of great reviews. Would be a good read for those interested in history and westerns.
I have not read a Western since Owen Wister's The Virginian and I do not enjoy violence. Even so, this book has made a real impression on me, and I want to reread it. I think it may be the great American novel.
I do not understand why this book has gotten rave reviews! I read Lonesome Dove years ago and loved it. This was a badly done imitation, with Dallas and The Big Valley tossed into the mix. There was no reason to care about the characters or to worry about what would happen to them. This is from someone who worried about the pigs on the cattle drive in Lonesome Dove.