2 May 2012

Review: "The Sisters Brothers" by Patrick DeWitt

There are so many reasons to pick up "The Sisters Brothers" by Patrick DeWitt. The title which is cool and awoke my imagination, the cover art that is like a punch in the face in a bookshop (in the best way possible) and the author's headshot in which he looks exactly like a literary author should. 

Another good reason to pick up "The Sister Brothers" is that it is a bloody good book. It is a piece of intelligent, literary Western fiction taking place in 1850's Oregon and when you read it, you can smell the dust in the air and feel the electricity of the gold rush. 
Eli and Charlie Sisters are the brothers, not just any brothers, they are the Sisters brothers. The murderous Sisters brothers whose paths few dare to cross. They are riding South from their Oregon shack on a mission to find Hermann Kermit Warm and ... well... kill him. It is a mission and as professional assassins, this is what they do for a living so initially, it is just another job. 
However, as they travel the dusty roads, Eli starts considering the life they are living. Though he is murderous and doesn't feel any guilt killing people who he deems to have "deserved it", he is also a gentle giant who dreams of opening up a clothing shop and marrying a nice girl. 
His brother Charlie is not gentle, not by any meaning of the word. He is ruthless and on the hunt for more money, more power and more whiskey. 

On their travels they meet a strange cast of interesting characters - from men hunting gold in the riverbeds to whores with an alcohol problem and a dentist who has failed at everything else. It is a tour through another time, a cool and collected Western that takes aim and hits you right in the imagination. It is a great book. A pretty fast read but one that you will find hard to put down because it is utterly fascinating. 
I found myself really rooting for Eli - even though he is a bit of a psychopath (nowhere near as bad as his brother though), he is also quiet a reflected individual. He thinks about right and wrong, about life and living and surviving. It is hard not to identify with him, not to find him lovable when he makes a big deal out of brushing his teeth. 

It is no wonder that "The Sisters Brothers" was shortlisted for the 2011 Man Booker Prize because this is a winning novel, a really different (again, in the best way possible) book that makes an impression. It is clever, well-written, exciting - basically it is a good book!

Read it if: Your favourite cartoon figures are the Dalton Brothers from Lucky Luke. You usually like the novels that get nominated for the Man Booker Prize. You want to try something different that will leave you feeling rewarded at the end. 


  1. I'm fairly certain that I would love this book. I meant to read it last year and never got around to it. Thanks for the reminder. I wonder if my book club would enjoy it......

  2. Ooh this DOES sound good! I've had my eye on it but have yet to secure a copy to read. Haha I love your comment about the author looking like a literary author should! So true ;)

  3. I started this one, then gave it to my husband to read. He loved it but I never got back to it. Thanks for reminding me. It was also a contender in the Tournament of Books. Good review.

  4. I read this book at the end of 2011 and really enjoyed it. I wasn't sure I would as I tend to shy away from Westerns, but this was done in the best way possible. Eli is one of my favorite characters.

  5. The Sisters Brothers is an original and inventive novel. Its humor flows easily, without compromising the novel's foreboding darkness and meditation on life and self. This is the old west reimagined and it's a thoroughly entertaining ride.

    Charmaine Smith (For more on Montana Elk Hunts Rifle 7 Day Pack Trip Click Here)