Texas is big no doubt about it—in size, in population, in history and influence. That’s why it has drawn the attention of many writers. A state that big has plenty of stories to tell.
The story that’s drawing a lot of attention this summer is Philipp Meyer’s new novel The Son which follows a family through several generations from its founder Eli McCullough who was born on the same day Texas became a republic in 1836, lived through Comanche captivity and went on to become very rich.
Other well-known authors have plowed this ground from Edna Ferber’s beloved Giant to James Michener’s Texas. Larry McMurtry provided a wonderful Texas frontier tale in Lonesome Dove. I was lucky enough to hear McMurtry speak at the University of Washington many years ago. His book was inspired by tales he heard from old-time cattlemen and cowboys who used to drive their cattle from Texas north. One of Cormac McCarthy’s earliest books was Blood Meridian which follows a bloody gang of murders who scalp Native Americans and others for bounty and pleasure. This is not the nostalgic frontier story we grew up with. And now we have Meyer’s new novel which seems to reinforce this image of violence and greed. Let’s face it, the frontier was a harsh place for all concerned and no one had a firm hold on nobility or ethics. Riches were there to be made or stolen.