Fiction: The Son by Philipp Meyer

The Son is less one long book than three ones. The book covers four generations of a Texas family: a frontiersman turned cattle baron captured by the Comanche, his titular son, and his great-granddaughter, an heiress turned oil baroness. The problem is that it is one very, very good book and a couple mediocre ones.

The first story, about the “Colonel” as he’s referred to elsewhere, is the best and can’t be treated as anything other than the main story. His family settled on the frontier of Texas in the 1800s, and he was captured by Comanche is a raid. He starts as a slave and becomes a Comanche warrior. Meyer’s research on the Comanche shows. If only he could have done more research on the rest of the story.

The “Son” storyline shows promise. It provides a window into the Colonel’s life after returning from the Comanche, one that the titular Son is unfortunately uninterested in, self-absorbed as he is. I choose to be charitable and treat him not as a Mary Sue but intentional. Like Walter Sobchak, he’s not wrong, he’s just an a**hole (and almost unbearably naïve).

The third story is the weakest. It follows the Colonel’s great-granddaughter life as the modern world opens. This story SHOULD be interesting. But Meyer obviously has no interest in it. And as time moves forward with the story and his interest wanes the research wanes with it. And so what could have been a story as interesting as the first becomes strictly paint-by-numbers. Her views could have come out of a book (and not a good one). The rest of the Texans in that storyline are similarly stereotypical.

The writing is extremely strong, hence, along with the Colonel’s story, the good rating despite the weakness of the rest.

The Son was adapted into a TV show on AMC, but I only watched the pilot.

4 Stars.

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