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The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
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The Sisters Brothers (original 2011; edition 2012)

by Patrick deWitt

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,5492242,364 (3.87)1 / 591
Member:relah
Title:The Sisters Brothers
Authors:Patrick deWitt
Info:Ecco (2012), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 336 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:2012

Work details

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt (2011)

  1. 80
    No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy (derelicious)
  2. 50
    Doc by Mary Doria Russell (Citizenjoyce)
    Citizenjoyce: Gunslingers and philosophy populate both books.
  3. 40
    True Grit by Charles Portis (ShelfMonkey)
  4. 30
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  5. 30
    Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry (whymaggiemay)
    whymaggiemay: Both have a wonderful, authentic flavor of the old west.
  6. 10
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  7. 10
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  8. 10
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  9. 10
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  10. 00
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  12. 00
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  13. 01
    The Antagonist by Lynn Coady (bookwormjules)
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  14. 13
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  15. 03
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    Limelite: Both these Westerns turn the genre on its ear. "Not John Wayne's Old West."
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English (215)  Dutch (2)  Italian (1)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (221)
Showing 1-5 of 215 (next | show all)
Read with popcorn!
This western, set in the 1850s, is like a Coen Brothers movie but in book form. Perhaps the film-makers have bought the rights already? So I googled the book title and 'Coen Brothers' (one can chase down idle whims so lazily now). My sense of cleverness soon deflated — others have been chasing down this thought long before me. The Man Booker Prize marketers said, in their blurb about why The Sisters Brothers was nominated, that “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.”
Eli Sisters, the narrator, and his brother Charlie, are hired killers, but since they do get a wage for that, it lends their occupation a certain legitimacy, at least in their own mind. They do what needs to get done. The narrator's voice has a slightly formal quality - there are few contractions in his speech. Although capable of seemingly mindless violence, Eli is also a thinker, and is frequently the more empathic brother. "The creak of bedsprings suffering under the weight of a restless man is as lonely a sound as I know." Charlie is more focused and laconic; when Eli asked him how he came to be injured, he said, "The men were hesitant to loan me their equipment. Well, they'll not need the axe, now."
It captures the greedy delirium of the gold rush, and the naked lawlessness of the west. A great read.

( )
  TheBookJunky | Apr 22, 2016 |
Witty little western with all the classic themes (guns, horses, miners, a Commodore and mama) and with some new ones - like a toothbrushing fetish. But underneath all of that was something very interesting going on between the brothers, as is demonstrated by this fun quote: "'What's that? You're not smiling are you? We're in a quarrel and you mustn't under any circumstances smile.' I was not smiling, but then began to, slightly. 'No,' said Charlie, 'you mustn't smile when quarreling. It's wrong, and I daresay you know it's wrong. You must stew and hate and revisit all the slights I offered you in childhood.' " ( )
  sydsavvy | Apr 8, 2016 |
This book reminded me vaguely of [b:All the Pretty Horses|469571|All the Pretty Horses (The Border Trilogy, #1)|Cormac McCarthy|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1341082426s/469571.jpg|1907621] crossed with [b:Of Mice and Men|890|Of Mice and Men|John Steinbeck|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1327872081s/890.jpg|40283]. I'm not much for westerns as a rule, but this one was well-written and had a great character as the narrator. Eli Sisters, one of the famous Sisters brothers (hit men of the gold rush era) is somehow both complex and a little simple, and sympathetic yet not wholly so. As a man I like him a little and dislike him a little, but as a character I think he's supremely well drawn, and makes this book a very engaging read. ( )
  BraveNewBks | Mar 10, 2016 |
Horrifyingly funny and surprisingly touching. ( )
  seschanfield | Mar 7, 2016 |
An enjoyable trip through 1850s California, Oregon Territory, following the adventures of the Sisters Brothers, Eli and Charlie, with equal parts violence, comedy and pathos. ( )
  charlie68 | Mar 7, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 215 (next | show all)
Sometimes, a novel is like a train: the first chapter is a comfortable seat in an attractive carriage,and the narrative speeds up. But there are other sorts of trains, and other sorts of novels. They rush by in the dark; passengers framed in the lighted windows are smiling and enjoying themselves. You aren't a passenger, you don't care about that destination, and the whole train rumbles on without you.
added by geocroc | editThe Guardian, Jane Smiley (Jul 15, 2011)
 
Much has been made, over the last few decades, about the death of the western as a genre. All this talk, however, seems to overlook a single, crucial point: the western was never just a genre....DeWitt not only plays the western straight, he draws from the best. Written with the parsed force of the best of Elmore Leonard, DeWitt’s closest CanLit antecedent seems to be Michael Ondaatje’s The Collected Works of Billy the Kid. The influence comes through not only in his attention to every word, every detail, but also in the deadpan, unflinching depiction of violence, reality elevated almost to the level of ridiculousness...Despite being deliberately and effectively part of a tradition (one can imagine it being written and read a hundred years ago, with a few caveats), The Sisters Brothers is a bold, original and powerfully compelling work, grounded in well-drawn characters and a firm hold on narrative. When they say “They don’t write em like that anymore,” they’re wrong.
 
Because rather than concerning himself with showboating his period-specific research, deWitt has deliberately flouted the rules of straight-laced historical realism here, to stunning effect. And most importantly, what he does get right are the flawed and jagged hearts of his characters, which is all the real this reviewer needs....What Western is real anyway? Aren’t they all revisions and stylizations of the past? From the kindergarten morals and the ridiculous bloodlessness of Hollywood Westerns, to Louis L’Amour’s pat Harlequin Romances for men, to the populist machismo of spaghetti Westerns and their impossibly slow gun duels, the genre has never registered very high on the reality scale.....The overall effect is fresh, hilariously anti-heroic, often genuinely chilling, and relentlessly compelling. Yes, this is a mighty fine read, and deWitt a mighty fine writer.
 
There never was a more engaging pair of psychopaths than Charlie and Eli Sisters, two brothers who kill for hire—and for necessity, and sometimes for the pure, amusing hell of it....So subtle is DeWitt’s prose, so slyly note-perfect his rendition of Eli’s voice in all its earnestly charming 19th-century syntax, and so compulsively readable his bleakly funny western noir story, that readers will stick by Eli even as he grinds his heel into the shattered skull of an already dead prospector.
 
Nothing in Patrick deWitt’s first novel, Ablutions, a laconic barfly’s lament for a dysfunctional life, could prepare you for his second, a triumphantly dark, comic anti-western; apart, that is, from the same devastating sense of confidence and glittering prose. ...The writing is superb, with each brief chapter a separate tale in itself, relayed in Eli’s aphoristic fashion. The scope is both cinematic and schematic, with a swaggering, poetic feel reminiscent of a Bob Dylan lyric, while the author retains gleefully taut control of the overall structure. ...
 

» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Patrick deWittprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Chong, Suet YeeDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stiles, DanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
Voor mijn moeder
For my mother
First words
I was sitting outside the Commodore's mansion, waiting for my brother Charlie to come out with news of the job.
Quotations
We can all of us be hurt, and no one is exclusively safe from worry and sadness.
The creak of bed springs suffering under the weight of a restless man is as lonely a sound as I know.
Here is another miserable mental image I will have to catalog and make room for.
To me, luck was something you either earned or invented through strength of character. You had to come by it honestly; you could not trick or bluff your way into it.
What would the world be, I thought, without money hung around our necks, hung around our very souls?
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
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 Sacremento, Eli begins to question what he does-and whom he does it for. With The Brothers Sisters, 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, 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. (ARC)
Haiku summary
The Sisters brothers?
Guns for hire, but Eli
Fancies a job change.
(passion4reading)

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0062041266, Hardcover)

Shortlisted for the Booker Prize

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:03 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

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.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 6 descriptions

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