When Philipp Meyer quit his job on Wall Street to pursue writing, I’m sure he never expected his sophomore novel would not only be a Pulitzer Prize finalist, but also that it’d be adapted to the small screen with his intimate involvement by one of the hottest channels in television, AMC.
I first wrote about Philipp Meyer in 2009, after reading his excellent debut novel, the rustbelt Pennsylvania set American Rust, which at the time had been optioned for a big screen adaptation that is currently stuck in development purgatory.
Last month though, exciting news was announced by Deadline: AMC is developing a show based on his second novel, The Son, and Philipp Meyer himself will serve as executive producer.
Last summer, when I read his Texas-set, ambitious, brutal, and sometimes horrific sweeping epic The Son. I was blown away. I burnt through the 700+ pages in two sittings. The novel is not merely good… it’s a masterpiece. An instant classic. An important book in American literature that’s only going to continue to grow in significance as the decades pass. And while comparisons are silly, if you need one, it’s sort of like Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian as interpreted by John Steinbeck before being edited by William Faulkner.
When reading it, I thought the novel, like Blood Meridian, would be nearly impossible to adapt to the big screen. Even on television, which will provide the filmmakers with much more freedom than Hollywood would, it will be difficult as the story follows three distinct generations and time periods of a rising Texas oil empire: the ruthless Eli McCulloch, Eli’s son Pete, and Eli’s great-granddaughter Jeanne.
Meyer himself described it as a “partly historical novel about the rise of an oil and ranching dynasty in Texas, tracing the family from the earliest days of white settlement, fifty years of open warfare with the Comanches, the end of the frontier and the rise of the cattle industry, and transitioning into the modern (oil) age.”
What I find even more interesting, The Dallas Morning News ran an article yesterday describing how Meyer and writers like him are getting on board projects as executive producer.
Writers including Meyer, Brian McGreevy of Hemlock Grove, and Smith Henderson of Fourth of July Creek have formed a writers collective called El Jefe which, according to Meyer, was created to “help interesting, high-quality literary writers adapt, produce, and retain meaningful ownership of their own work for television and film.” Perhaps this was in response to the mess surrounding the American Rust adaptation that fizzled out.
The Son for AMC will be El Jefe’s first production. There is no word yet on casting or filming dates.
If you’ve read The Son, do you think even with Meyer’s involvement they’ll be able to effectively adapt it for television? Who could you envision in any of the lead roles? Chime in below!
Even if God existed, to say he loved the human race was preposterous. It was just as likely the opposite; it was just as likely he was systematically deceiving us. To think that an all-powerful being would make a world for anyone but himself, that he might spend all his time looking out for the interests of lesser creatures, it went against all common sense. The strong took from the weak, only the weak believed otherwise, and if God was out there, he was just as the Greeks and Romans had suspected; a trickster, an older brother who spent all his time inventing ways to punish you. -Philipp Meyer, The Son