Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Son by Philipp Meyer

"…the vicissitudes of fortune, which spares neither man nor the proudest of his works…buries empires and cities in a common gave." - Edward Gibbon

Any novel that opens with a quote from The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire I have automatic faith in and The Son by Philipp Meyer did not disappoint. Meyer, who is not ugly to look at (and you will be every time you pick up the book due to an overly large bio pic on the back flap), created an American epic of Feivel Goes West proportions in 2013. It is a story of good ol' Texas and its involvement with Indians/oil/nationalrelations/foreignrelations/everythingelse and the families that made the Lone Star State their home. Buy this book. And also read these excerpts (no spoilers) from The Son and prepare to question everything you thought you knew:

"The entire history of humanity is marked by a single inexorable movement."
"If that well in Iraq had come in ten or twelve years earlier, the Ottoman Empire would not have collapsed. The world would be an entirely different place." Hmm...

"As for JFK, it had not surprised her. The year he died, there were still living Texans who had seen their parents scalped by Indians." - On why JFK was assassinated in Texas of all places. The nasty business of scalping is a very common (very detailed) occurrence throughout the book.

"They were in favor of the war as long as they did not have to fight it themselves, and I have always thought that is why California turned out the way it did." - On people moving (fleeing?) to California when the Civil War broke out so they would not have to fight.

"Something was happening to the entire human race."
"In Australia, frozen into rock, there were the footprints of three people crossing a mudflat. At twenty-seven miles per hour - all three moving as fast as the fastest man on earth today. They were speeding up when the tracks ended." - The "Something was happening" Meyer is referring to may be 'regression.'

The Son was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction this year but was beat out by Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch. I'm not sure I agree.


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