Oregon, 1851. Eli and Charlie Sisters, notorious professional killers, are on their way to California to kill a man named Hermann Kermit Warm. On the way, the brothers have a series of unsettling and violent experiences in the Darwinian landscape of Gold Rush America. Charlie makes money and kills anyone who stands in his way; Eli doubts his ...
Oregon, 1851. Eli and Charlie Sisters, notorious professional killers, are on their way to California to kill a man named Hermann Kermit Warm. On the way, the brothers have a series of unsettling and violent experiences in the Darwinian landscape of Gold Rush America. Charlie makes money and kills anyone who stands in his way; Eli doubts his vocation and falls in love. And they bicker a lot. Then they get to California, and discover that Warm is an inventor who has come up with a magical formula, which could make all of them very rich. What happens next is utterly gripping, strange and sad. Told in deWitt's darkly comic and arresting style, THE SISTERS BROTHERS is the kind of Western the Coen Brothers might write - stark, unsettling and with a keen eye for the perversity of human motivation. Like his debut novel ABLUTIONS, THE SISTERS BROTHERS is a novel about the things you tell yourself in order to be able to continue to live the life you find yourself in, and what happens when those stories no longer work. It is an inventive and strange and beautifully controlled piece of fiction, which shows an exciting expansion of Dewitt's range
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This seemed very promising, but the narrative became boring and flat. I may have missed the point of this book. I could have spent the time reading Cormac McCarthy instead.
Sep 27, 2012
I enjoyed reading this book. I found it to be quite different from my usual fare. It is about 2 brothers
who are hired gunmen situated in earlier times when
the means of travel was by horseback and carrying a
gun was common place. They are hired to kill 2 gold
miners and steal a formula that one of these miners
has developed to find gold in streams of water. There is a comedic as well as tragic theme running through
out this book. Interesting and entertaining.
Sep 29, 2011
Not Yer Daddy's Western (but I bet he'd like it)
Narrated by the stouter half of a pair of old west hitmen, Patrick deWitt's 'The Sister's Brothers' takes us on a journey from Oregon to California during the gold rush, ostensibly to complete an assignment from their shadowy boss, but really in search of the dual protagonist's futures.
Eli Sisters is becoming ambivalent about his career path and longs to settle down, Charlie prefers to drink and womanize as always but this particular assignment will change them both permanently.
A new western novel full of the taste of dust and grit, plenty of pain and blood, and large doses of humor and human emotion, 'The Sister's Brothers' delivers on all levels with rich and complex characters, a plot full of twists and a conclusion that takes both the characters and the reader by surprise.
Sep 11, 2011
Sometimes good guys wear black
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt wasn't what I was expecting. I was expecting a straight-forward Western tale, maybe with a bit of humor, perhaps updated a bit for a modern palate. I don't "do" Westerns, as a general rule. But I was pleasantly surprised to find a tale of depth, wit, and humanity shot through with an intriguing plot full of twists and characters refreshingly nuanced and believable.
The titular Sisters Brothers, Eli and Charlie, are killers for hire. They get the job done, and they love and feud as only true kin can. Their fraternal loyalty is fierce, and their bickering fiercer. Charlie loves his job, relishes every unsavory bit, and has big plans for an upwardly-mobile future within his organization. Eli has a (charming and surprisingly naïve) romantic streak, as well as a thoughtful and nagging conscience. Every step of the way, Eli wrestles internally with himself and his choices, and externally with his brother's choices, and they both must fight to survive in an unforgiving and uninviting world.
The plot was rollicking and full of adventure, and the reading was brisk. I never found myself disinterested or wishing the author would hurry things along. As adventure tales go, I felt this one was practically perfect. Furthermore, deWitt injects his narrative with just the right amount of humor, both slapstick and sly, sophisticated and crude. But where the story truly shines, what raises it to something greater than a simple Western yarn is the subtle development of character, especially regarding Eli Sisters. Here is a man, a scoundrel and deeply flawed, but with a rich reserve of warmth and sentimentality. Eli is introspective and mulling, almost comically so considering the setting and his occupation, and he harbors guilt, regret, longing for love, longing for home, nostalgia, and even compassion far beyond the bounds one might expect. As a contract killer, Eli wears a metaphorical black hat, but deep down he's one of the good guys.
The Sisters Brothers was a delightful picaresque, following the trials and triumphs of two colorful and believable anti-heroes as they carve a name for themselves in the hard-baked soil of Gold Rush-era California. It's a buddy caper, a road story, a psychological study, a banter-rich comedy, a morality play, a satire, and a thrilling adventure all rolled into one. I highly recommend it.
Publishers Weekly, 2011-01-10 Dewitt's bang-up second novel (after Ablutions) is a quirky and stylish revisionist western. When a frontier baron known as the Commodore orders Charlie and Eli Sisters, his hired gunslingers, to track down and kill a prospector named Herman Kermit Warm, the brothers journey from Oregon to San Francisco, and eventually to Warm's claim in the Sierra foothills, running into a witch, a bear, a dead Indian, a parlor of drunken floozies, and a gang of murderous fur trappers. Eli's deadpan narration is at times strangely funny (as when he discovers dental hygiene, thanks to a frontier dentist dispensing free samples of "tooth powder that produced a minty foam") but maintains the power to stir heartbreak, as with Eli's infatuation with a consumptive hotel bookkeeper. As more of the brothers' story is teased out, Charlie and Eli explore the human implications of many of the cliches of the old west and come off looking less and less like killers and more like traumatized young men. With nods to Charles Portis and Frank Norris, DeWitt has produced a genre-bending frontier saga that is exciting, funny, and, perhaps unexpectedly, moving. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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