An epic journey spanning a century and a half in Texas, America.
Philipp Meyer grew up in a working class neighborhood in Baltimore. His mother is an artist; his father worked as an electrician, cabinet maker, and art installer before becoming a college science instructor. The neighborhood, Hampden, had been devastated by the collapse of various heavy industries, and crime and unemployment were rampant. Meyer attended city public schools until dropping out at age 16. He spent the next five years working as a bicycle mechanic and occasionally volunteering at Baltimore s Shock Trauma Center. At age 20, he began taking classes at a variety of colleges in Baltimore and decided to become a writer. He also decided to leave his hometown, and at 22, on his third attempt at applying to various Ivy League colleges, he was admitted to Cornell University. He graduated with a degree in English and a mountain of debt and headed for Wall Street to pay off his student loans. After getting a job with the Swiss investment bank UBS, Meyer did training in London and Zurich and was assigned to an elite group of derivatives traders, jokingly referred to as the genius desk. After several years at UBS, he d paid off most of his student loans and decided to pursue
Eli McCullough, the first male child born in the Republic of Texas, is kidnapped at age 13 by Comanches, and from then on his life becomes a study in conflict. During three years of living with the Indians, he wins their respect and is thought of as an upcoming chief. But by the time he turns 16, having mastered the art of scalping, he is set free. Forever restless, he becomes a Texas Ranger, a cattle rancher, and, later, a colonel in the Civil War. His son, Pete, is cut from a different cloth and rebels against his family's history of violence and anti-Mexican racism. His rebellion includes the love of a Mexican woman. Pete's daughter, Jeanne Anne, struggles to be taken seriously as a rancher and oil tycoon. The broody McCulloughs gain in wealth but often pay dearly. A strain of misunderstood lonesomeness hounds each generation. VERDICT Treading on similar ground to James Michener, Larry McMurtry, and Cormac McCarthy, Guggenheim Fellowship-winner Meyer (American Rust) brings the bloody, racially fraught history of Texas to life. Call it a family saga or an epic, this novel is a violent and harrowing read. [See Prepub Alert, 11/30/12.]-Keddy Ann Outlaw, formerly with Harris Cty. P. L., Houston (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
In chronicling the settlement and scourge of the American West, from the Comanche raids of the mid-19th century into the present era, Meyer never falters. The sweeping history of the McCullough dynasty unfolds across generations and through alternating remembrances of three masterfully drawn characters: Eli, the first white male born in a newly founded Texas, captured and raised by Comanche Indians; Eli's self-sacrificing son, Peter, who shuns everything his power-hungry father represents; and Jeannie, Eli's fiercely independent great-great-granddaughter, who inherits the family fortune. Chapters detailing Peter's affair with a Mexican neighbor and his moral struggle with his ancestors' bloody legacy are keenly balanced alongside those involving Jeannie's firm yet impassive rule over the modern McCullough estate. But it's the engrossing, sometimes grotesque descriptions of Eli's early tribal years-scalpings, mating rituals, and a fascinating few pages about the use of buffalo body parts that recalls Moby Dick-that are the stuff of Great American Literature. Like all destined classics, Meyer's second novel (after American Rust) speaks volumes about humanity-our insatiable greed, our inherent frailty, the endless cycle of conquer or be conquered. So, too, his characters' successes and failures serve as a constant reminder: "There is nothing we will not have mastered, except, of course, ourselves." Agent: Eric Simonoff, WME Entertainment. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.