Philipp Meyer’s The Son

Jun 26, 2013

A contemporary exploration of the American creation myth, Philipp Meyer’s sophomore novel, The Son, is a brilliant, epic and multi-generational  story of the rise and fall of a Texas dynasty.

This profound saga, told with heart-warming integrity and heart-rending reality, is smart, sumptuous and utterly absorbing.

The broad chronicle of the McCulloch family unfolds across the generations as seen through the eyes of a triad of well-drawn characters.  Eli McCullough is the first white child born into the new nation of Texas; captured and raised by the Comanches, he eventually builds a cattle and oil empire. His son Peter is the sensitive black sheep of the family, and Jeanne Anne is Peter’s granddaughter, who despite the family fortune, still struggles in a male-dominated society.

Through the interwoven perspectives of these three vibrant characters, the ethnicity, lives, hopes and outlooks of the family are examined and critiqued.  In particular, there’s grisly detail concerning Eli’s life among the Comanche, with plenty of blood, rape and scalp-taking.  This is something his descendants find uncomfortable.

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From the Comanche raids in the 1800s, to World War I, and the 20th-century oil boom, history comes alive through the McCulloughs’ story and it’s this multi-faceted  perspective that makes The Son a wonderful, literary, western, masterpiece.

The Son, by Philip Meyer, is published by Random House, $32.95.

Philip Meyer will be a guest at Adelaide Writers’ Week, speaking at two sessions on March 2 and March 3 in the Pioneer Women’s Memorial Gardens.


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