Thursday, August 2, 2012
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
If you like: westerns * gold *assassins
In The Sisters Brothers, we follow Charlie and Eli Sisters as they make their way to California to execute a hit on an enemy of their boss, The Commodore. On the way, they encounter all sorts of trouble, as well as a bit of luck. At first, they seem intent on completing their mission without question, as they have many times before. The events of their trip and the losses they experience bring their lives into question and lead them to consider alternative careers and futures.
The bond between Eli and Charlie will ring true for many readers. The Sisters brothers defend each other to the end, no matter the threat. For them, family is family, and any wrongs they have committed against each other are second to any outside menace. At the same time, their bickering will seem very familiar to anyone with a sibling. When you have always known someone, it is easy to predict their actions, desired or undesired. With this sense of precognition, it is easy to become agitated in anticipation of the future. The perceived favoritism towards another sibling is a constant bone of contention for any sister or brother. It can be difficult to work with someone in these circumstances. On the other hand, there is no one that you know like a sibling, and blending shared prejudices and traditions creates a unique synchronicity. The Sisters brothers have the quintessential sibling rivalry.
The pacing and plot of The Sisters Brothers make it a really enjoyable tale. Eli and Charlie are in no hurry to get to California, but that doesn’t mean that the plot drags. There is plenty of action along the way, but plenty of time for reflection, too. The balance that deWitt has achieved is admirable. Eli is an excellent narrator. He is admittedly flawed, and not overly concerned about it, but his heart is true and he has an inherent desire for more than the life of a hired gun. His relationship with his horse, Tubs, is unexpectedly touching. The way in which Eli reflects on the events as they transpire truly captures a realistic questioning of the significance of life’s every circumstance. The short chapters make The Sisters Brothers the perfect book to pick up and put back down when reading time is limited.
If you shoot first and ask questions later, read The Sisters Brothers.
deWitt, Patrick. The Sisters Brothers. New York: Harper Collins, Inc., 2011. Kindle Edition.