Monday, June 20, 2011
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
Hermann Kermit Warm is going to die. The enigmatic and powerful man known only as the Commodore has ordered it, and his henchmen, Eli and Charlie Sisters, will make sure of it. Though Eli doesn't share his brother's appetite for whiskey and killing, he's never known anything else. But their prey isn't an easy mark, and on the road from Oregon City to Warm's gold-mining claim outside Sacramento, Eli begins to question what he does for a living–and whom he does it for.
With The Sisters Brothers, Patrick deWitt pays homage to the classic Western, transforming it into an unforgettable comic tour de force. Filled with a remarkable cast of characters–losers, cheaters, and ne'er-do-wells from all stripes of life–and told by a complex and compelling narrator, it is a violent, lustful odyssey through the underworld of the 1850s frontier that beautifully captures the humor, melancholy, and grit of the Old West and two brothers bound by blood, violence, and love.
What a peculiar story this was. At first, I won’t lie, the western theme was not a huge selling point for me. Hesitation was rampant. As soon as I started reading, however, I fell in love with the entire setting.
The book is mainly an adventure story. Since the characters are killers hired by a mysterious man call the Commodore, the reader expects lots of action, lots of gun-slinging scenes, but there aren’t many of those at all. If any. And that’s what makes this book work so well, it breaks away from every stereotype. The characters are rugged yet vulnerable, with a penchant for depression and melancholy. Eli, the narrator, has a soft spot for his handicapped horse and Charlie, Eli’s brother, has a need to be the leader at all times.
Their misadventures were hilarious. Nothing seemed to go right for the two brothers.
The bond between them is well developed, with the usual ups and downs that siblings experience, only with guns and horses added to the mix. Some scenes had me laughing out loud at the madness. At moments it felt like a comedy skit.
Don’t make the mistake of not picking this book up because of the seemingly cowboy-ish theme, this is definitely a book to own and enjoy.