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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Highly Recommended Reading: The Son by Philipp Meyer

Philipp Meyer's historical novel The Son, a finalist for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, is one of the best books I have read in the last year. It is an unsparing, insightful, and engaging work.

The Son is the story of multiple generations of a Texas family, from homesteading on the frontier to the 20th century oil boom. It begins with Eli McCullough. In 1849, 13-year old Eli is taken captive by the Comanches. Meyer compellingly writes of Eli's absorption into the life of the tribe at this period when the migration of people from the east is decimating the western tribes. Eventually, war, illness, and hunger destroy his band and Eli returns to Texas where he seeks a path of independence and fortune.

In chapters that alternate with Eli's story, Meyer writes from the perspective of  Eli's son, Peter, and his great-granddaughter, Jeannie. The influence of Eli's personality and choices in life profoundly shape these two characters as the McCullough wealth transitions from ranching to oil.

A riveting, multilayered story, The Son is simply excellent and is highly recommended.