Monday, March 10, 2014

The Son | Philipp Meyer

There is nothing I enjoy more than a good Western. The cover itself sold me this book (totally judging a book by it's cover!), a flatland desert with scrubby bushes, a dirt track and a lone horse and rider moving to wards a vast horizon. I couldn't wait to start this 500+ page book.

The story is of the McCullough family through the generations told in alternate chapters rather than chronologically. I really liked this structure as it was easy to see the family as a whole over centuries of their settlement in Texas.

It begins with Eli, who was kidnapped by Comanche indians when they attacked his family's homestead and massacred the rest of his family. He was thirteen years old and learned the ways of the Comanche and was accepted into their tribe. This was in the 1840's and 50's. We then read extracts from Peter McCullough's diary which span 1870's through to 1940's. He is Eli's son. And these two stories intercalate with Jeanne Anne (Peter's daughter) which spans from 1926 through to the 1980's.

It spans a great amount of frontier history, from the colonisation of Mexico into Texas, the Indians and their way of life which was destroyed by the white settlers, the Pioneers, the cattle-ranchers and the oil men. All leave their mark on the landscape and have made Texas what it is today.

This is a novel akin to Legends of the Fall, a great movie more or less set in the same time in history. If you enjoy family sagas, well written, with plenty of good research and well drawn characters, you will really enjoy this novel. Meyer has also written American Rust, which i will read now based on the strength of this book.

If you enjoy this kind of story you must read Cormack McCarthy and Thomas Eidson, two fantastic writers of fiction set in the West.

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