Really interesting book here, only Meyer’s second. I haven’t read his first, American Rust, but I’ve actually already got a copy on loan from the library, which should give some indication of how I feel about The Son. So, there’s nothing particularly new about either the thematic resonances or the form of this novel. It’s the story of Eli McCullough, born the day Texas achieves independence; Eli’s son, Peter McCullough, a man ill-suited to following in his father’s footsteps; and Peter’s granddaughter, Jean McCullough, a woman with the grit and fire to pick up Eli’s mantle where the intervening generations have left off. The book alternates chapters from the perspective of each of them, covering a period of nearly two-hundred years, all told. It’s obviously a story about the American West, the Oil Boom, the passing of the Native Americans, the violence inherent in settling any new land and the inescapable nature of the sins of the past. Like I say, nothing new in all that. But Meyer is a really wonderful writer; the voices of the three main characters are all very different and he writes with a raw immediacy that makes the novel feel, in a bit of a reversal of what I kind of expected from the book, more visceral and emotional and less mythic. One expects this to be a book about the myths of the American West and, in a way, it is, but it’s also intense and in your face in all the best ways and much more about the actual people than about the archetypes they embody. It’s a book that’s maybe a hair too long – it clocks in at around six-hundred pages and there’s a bit of a dead patch around page five-hundred or so that could stand some tightening. But that’s not enough of a flaw for me to ding the book; it’s definitely a book I can highly recommended. 4 stars.
tl;dr – multi-generational epic of the American West is old-school in its structure and themes, but it has a fresh, visceral intensity and a compelling cast of characters that overcomes any possible clichés. 4 stars.