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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
2,2682052,822 (3.86)1 / 550
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. 40
    True Grit by Charles Portis (ShelfMonkey)
  3. 40
    Doc by Mary Doria Russell (Citizenjoyce)
    Citizenjoyce: Gunslingers and philosophy populate both books.
  4. 30
    Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry (whymaggiemay)
    whymaggiemay: Both have a wonderful, authentic flavor of the old west.
  5. 20
    Streets of Laredo by Larry McMurtry (Limelite)
  6. 10
    The Ox-Bow Incident by Walter van Tilburg Clark (ocgreg34)
  7. 10
    The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers by Thomas Mullen (VictoriaPL)
  8. 10
    Twilight by William Gay (tandah, tandah)
    tandah: Not as dark as 'Twilight' but it is a violent western road trip and both very well written.
  9. 10
    Close Range by Annie Proulx (Cecilturtle)
  10. 00
    The Whip by Karen Kondazian (Anonymous user)
  11. 00
    Woe to Live On by Daniel Woodrell (alanteder)
  12. 01
    The Antagonist by Lynn Coady (bookwormjules)
    bookwormjules: Part of the 2011 Giller Short-list
  13. 13
    Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan (bookwormjules)
    bookwormjules: Part of the 2011 Giller Prize Short List
  14. 03
    The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon by Tom Spanbauer (Limelite)
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English (200)  Dutch (2)  Italian (1)  Danish (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (205)
Showing 1-5 of 200 (next | show all)
The Sisters Brothers are hired guns on a mission--they are to travel to Gold Rush California from Oregon Territory to kill a man who has somehow crossed their boss. Along the way, they meet a host of colorful characters and (as most literary road trips) at least one of the brothers finds himself on road of self-discovery.

The book is at times gripping, at times horrifying, and at times very funny. One comes away with the jarring realization that cold-blooded killers are people, too.

An element that contributes to engaging the reader is the author's "voice." The delicate, formal vocabulary and syntax. these killers use to communicate with others and with one another is part of the book's charm. ( )
  kvrfan | Apr 25, 2015 |
A poignant and hilarious picaresque ride through the Old West. ( )
  dazzyj | Apr 12, 2015 |
- ( )
  e-b | Mar 11, 2015 |
This book won the Governor General's award for English literature in 2011. I'm not sure if I would have agreed with the committee on this because one of the nominees, Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan, is a book that I greatly enjoyed. It is darkly comic which explains why it won the Stephen Leacock Medal in 2012 but quite disturbing for the violence and general immorality.

Eli and Charlie Sisters are in the employ of a businessman, called the Commodore. The Sisters Brothers are essentially guns for hire and they don't usually question their instructions. However when the Commodore instructs them to go to California to kill Hermann Kermit Warm because Warm has stolen something from him Eli has some doubts about the job. Their path from Oregon City to San Francisco becomes littered with dead and maimed bodies but Eli is tiring of the killing. He thinks he would like to run a trading post but Charlie pooh-poohs that idea. Since Charlie is older and Eli looks up to him it looks like they will continue to ply their trade. In San Francisco they find their quarry gone as well as the Commodore's man, Morris, who was supposed to keep an eye on him. They continue their search in the gold fields. The decadence of life in San Francisco appalls Eli but he is equally disturbed by the gold fever exhibited by the prospectors in the field. Even Charlie seems to be taking note. Will this be enough to turn both brothers from their life of crime?

The characters are not likeable but I did feel somewhat sorry for them and the predicaments they faced. And yes, there are some funny sections. Not my cup of tea really but I can imagine some people would enjoy it. ( )
  gypsysmom | Feb 11, 2015 |
This book was on my long list of eventual reads, but quickly vaulted to #1 once it got picked for book club. We don't often read westerns and when we do, they tend to be appreciated in an ironic sense. That's why I was pleasantly surprised by The Sisters Brothers which I enjoyed very much and found genuinely compelling. The novel falls into the picaresque category and reads a bit like a Coen Brothers film or Tarantino with a lot Dead Wood mixed in. The two infamous gun men brothers find themselves in amusing predicaments which often result is quite fatal outcomes. It was clear to me that deWitt had done his fair share of research on 1840's Oregon and California gold rush. His sentence structure and choice of vocabulary gave me the sensation I was simply listening in on real conversations from that time period. Some situations caused laugh out loud moments for me and some were quite touching. I am interested to see what deWitt comes up with next. ( )
  BenjaminHahn | Jan 24, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 200 (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.
 
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.
 
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.
 
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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Voor mijn moeder
For my mother
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I was sitting outside the Commodore's mansion, waiting for my brother Charlie to come out with news of the job.
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(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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:35:43 -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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