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I'm not quite finished with Philipp Meyer's just-released Texas epic The Son, but unless the ending is a complete disaster I think it's safe to say it's one of the best books I've ever read, and certainly one of my favorite books about and set in the Lone Star State. Not bad for a Yankee.
According to a recent interview with The Dallas Morning News, Meyer did years of intense, immersive research on our state for the book, reading some 300 books and teaching himself to bow-hunt and tan hides. It shows in the beautiful, detailed descriptions of everything from the way the prairie flora looked before it became crowded with Anglo settlers and displaced Eastern tribes to the taste of blood from a freshly killed buffalo.
The saga concerns the McCullough family, whose patriarch, Eli, was born the day Texas declared its independence. After watching Comanches rape and murder his mother and sister, Eli is kidnapped by and eventually adopted into the band, with whom he does some pillaging of his own. Subsequent chapters take up the stories of his descendants, touching on the battles along the Texas-Mexico border during the Mexican Revolution, as the family goes from cattle-rich to oil-wealthy, but not without treachery and bloodshed.
It's incredibly ambitious and rich, and it reminds me of Blood Meridian and As I Lay Dying. Faulkner and McCarthy fans should definitely check it out. You can buy a copy and meet Meyer at Barnes & Noble Lincoln Park at 7 p.m. tonight.