Book of the Week for December 8-December 14
Why it’s interesting:
This book has gotten so much critical acclaim it’s hardly even worth noting at this point. I will admit, I bought the audio version mostly because I knew I “should” read it, but I didn’t think I was necessarily going to like it. Plus, it’s LOOOOONG. (577 pages. It’s approximately the size of a phone book. I’m a mom. And a writer. And I have a job. 577 pages takes a long time to read!) The reason I didn’t think I was going to like it, but bought it anyway, was because a few years ago Richard Ford’s Canada received a similar amount of acclaim in the writing and book world, and I did not like it. I can appreciate it from a educational perspective, and I expected to feel similarly about this book.
I started it on the end of a three-hour drive up north. I’ve been listening to it whenever I can (the audio file is 18 hours long). Picasso has been getting extra-long walks so I can listen more. The other day in the van, I put the radio on the kids’ favorite pop station, turned the speakers in the front off, and listened to it through my phone’s speaker. I’m completely wrapped up in it.
It’s three (at the end, four) different narratives, told simultaneously: Eli’s, his son Peter’s, and his granddaughter Jeanne’s. The time frame spans the 1800s (Eli’s) up to the last few years (Jeanne’s). (Telling you the fourth would give too much away. Sorry.) The thing that I really love about it is this: each story could stand on it’s own. And it’s weaved in a way that gives the reader insight that the characters don’t have, without it feeling gimmicky or overdone. And there is no point when you go: Oh! That action caused this and this and this and now we’re here in present time and it really started 200 years ago. It’s real. So real, it’s hard to remember it’s fiction.
Also, in a lot of ways, it’s a western. Not at all my thing, but so beautifully written that I am completely able to overlook the genre.
Philipp Meyer, the acclaimed author of American Rust, returns with The Son: an epic of the American West and a multigenerational saga of power, blood, land, and oil that follows the rise of one unforgettable Texas family, from the Comanche raids of the 1800s to the to the oil booms of the 20th century.
Harrowing, panoramic, and deeply evocative, The Son is a fully realized masterwork in the greatest tradition of the American canon—an unforgettable novel that combines the narrative prowess of Larry McMurtry with the knife-edge sharpness of Cormac McCarthy.
If you like this, you might also like:
The Invention of Wings. Also historical fiction that doesn’t feel like fiction. I read it in September. I’ll need to do a Book of the Week on it sometime soon, it was one of the best books I read this year.