The desire for it to be an epic tale may have distracted the author Philipp Meyer with his latest literary libation, "The Son." But that doesn’t mean that it’s anything less than a helluva read; it is, and some. The blood of life, the greed so familiar to us, the love of your life, and of course the ambition we all recognize are all present and come as helpful reminders to us all.
The story presents the building and the breaking down of a Texan clan, and all their constituents, as told through incredibly poignant and wildly different points of view: The patriarch of the family, the disgraced son, and the billionaire granddaughter. All three of these characters bred to death and holding onto their southern remarkability as the story line wangles across hills, valleys, ranches and even Mexico, all of this in order to find themselves, their families, their values and most of all the strength of their heritage as they crash and crumble. Is that what we call tragic? Meyer appeals to us, the reader to question just that.
The novel comes as a welcoming story line away from the Bush dynasty (Barbara did kill that in the news recently,) and of course the TV series "Dallas." The story spans over 200 years and six generations of this family as they manage the depression, the settlers coming to Texas, the Mexicans, Comanches, cowboys and damsels. Oh the damsels.
For 400 or so pages the novel lures with a tightly bonded story that enfolds you with the characters’ winter blankets and summer’s forever-like love struck days. But the last wrapping up happens so fast, so arduously, that somewhere this bind comes along too tightly, perhaps even too suffocating. And the story comes undone. But luckily it doesn’t completely let go of the beauty that came before.
Meyer, known for his work "American Rust," knows how to suck you in as a reader, and that in itself is remarkable. How he does it isn’t cheaply, and that is even more remarkable. "The Son" isn’t a literary feat; it’s a big (they don’t call it Texas for nothing) tale that has almost all the elements for the Herculean desire the writer so passionately possesses: The heroine, the patriarch and the fallen. But sort of like a Greek tragedy, it is after all, tragic.