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

by Patrick deWitt

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,6492262,258 (3.86)1 / 594
Member:dbeckman
Title:The Sisters Brothers
Authors:Patrick deWitt
Info:Ecco (2011), Edition: Reprint, Hardcover, 336 pages
Collections:Read but unowned, Kindle
Rating:***
Tags:None

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
    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
    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.
  7. 10
    The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers by Thomas Mullen (VictoriaPL)
  8. 10
    The Ox-Bow Incident by Walter van Tilburg Clark (ocgreg34)
  9. 10
    Close Range by Annie Proulx (Cecilturtle)
  10. 00
    Frog Music by Emma Donoghue (sturlington)
    sturlington: Both set around the same time in California.
  11. 00
    Woe to Live On by Daniel Woodrell (alanteder)
  12. 00
    The Whip by Karen Kondazian (Anonymous user)
  13. 01
    The Antagonist by Lynn Coady (bookwormjules)
    bookwormjules: Part of the 2011 Giller Short-list
  14. 13
    Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan (bookwormjules)
    bookwormjules: Part of the 2011 Giller Prize Short List
  15. 03
    The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon by Tom Spanbauer (Limelite)
    Limelite: Both these Westerns turn the genre on its ear. "Not John Wayne's Old West."
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English (220)  Dutch (2)  Italian (1)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (226)
Showing 1-5 of 220 (next | show all)
Constant Reader July 15th
  GoldenDarter | Sep 15, 2016 |
Low key and interesting. I loved Eli's voice and the way very little seemed to rattle him. The twists and turns the job took kept my interest and the author has some wonderful descriptions - particularly of the effects of the "solution" on the skin.

I definitely recommend the audio book for this one. I'd actually give it 3 1/2 but round down. ( )
  amcheri | Aug 22, 2016 |
I picked up The Sisters Brothers purely because of the fantastic cover. However, I didn't recognise the shapes on the covers at gun-slinging cowboy types, so I was quite surprised when the story started be set in the "wild west" of the Californian gold rush.

Had I known this, I probably would have missed out on this through and through fun and fabulous story of Eli and Charlie, the hired assassins who embark on a journey to finish a "job" and find more than they bargained for on the way.

The relationship between the brothers - which is testing at times - gives the story some depth but doesn't detract from the entertaining episodes that Eli and Charlie seem to tumble into. Actually, the two characters - Eli trying to calm down both his and his brother's temper, and Charlie stirring things up a bit- balance out nicely and add to the galloping pace.

Best read while listening to the Magnificent Seven soundtrack.

Warning: Do not read any passages of this book aloud while in the ear-shot of a horse. It will not thank you. ( )
  BrokenTune | Aug 21, 2016 |
Characters you will laugh at and cherish. Ended too soon. ( )
  bpeters65 | Jul 16, 2016 |
Patrick deWitt's The Sisters Brothers is a good read, but its reputation is greater than the quality of the work itself. When appraising the book as a whole, the story is not all that engrossing. All of the problems of this novel boil down to one fact: it is too short to fully come into its own. The prose is spartan, and consequently the characters are underdeveloped so that we feel little or no empathy for their situation. Eli Sisters, from whose perspective the story is told, does arouse some feelings of empathy due to his attempts to better himself, although not enough that it compensates for the general lack of characterisation. Similarly, the plot breezes through its different stages, and in the end we know little about Warm's 'formula', or indeed any of the character's motivations, if they had any at all. The catch-22 of it is that a longer text would have provided some much-needed depth of characterisation, but the story itself is not engrossing enough to warrant a weightier novel. ( )
  MikeFutcher | Jun 3, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 220 (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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People/Characters
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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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