Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Books Like Whoa: The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt (2012 Challenges)

An excellent summer read and my official beach recommendation... The Sisters Brothers:

The Sisters Brothers
by Patrick DeWitt

Procured from my wonderful local library

Procured in May 2012

Finished on May 24, 2012

Challenge?: For the "A to Z" Challenge

Format: Hardback with maybe the best cover ever - I love the double play of the graphic

Why I gave it a try: I first heard of this book from the folks at Bookrageous, who all seemed to love it. Then it won the Morning News' Tournament of Books and I knew I wanted to see what the hubbub was about. Everyone pitched this as a western for people who don't like westerns. Party of me.

Summary: There is one duo whose murderous exploits are known throughout the wild west - brothers Charlie and Eli Sisters. They have been the top ax men for Oregon's big boss, "the Commodore," for many moons, but they both know it can't go on like this forever. Charlie takes on one last gig for them as a pair, tracking down the elusive Hermann Kermit Warm. Western hijinks ensue. 

Thoughts: Here's why I'm positioning this book as my official Summer 2012 summer reading recommendation. 1) It's in paperback. 2)  It's got something for plot people: there is constant action and movement from scene to scene in a way that keeps you turning the page. 3) It's got something for character people: the narrator and his brother are incredibly memorable anti-heroes who do crazy things and encounter crazy people on their journey to San Francisco looking for a crazy (possible criminal) enemy of their employer. 4) It's got something for setting/atmosphere people: the tone of the narration is unique and the landscape and general feel for the old west is conveyed beautifully. 5) It's got something for prose people: Simply put, the writing is magnificent. Simple but distinct. 6) This is a book that would appeal to men or women. 7) It's a Man Booker nom and Tournament of Books winner, meaning you can feel fancy whilst you read.

You convinced yet?

Okay, if not, let me also say that I found the emotional journey that the brothers are on that parallels the physical journey well sketched and plausible. Eli, our narrator, is basically coming to the end of his tolerance for violence. It's a not state of moral hand-wringing, but rather a lack of blood lust that makes his occupation more wearisome than guilt-inducing. This is not an assassin interested in violence as an end unto itself or as a means to wealth and power. For that, we turn to Charlie, who is revealed to be a deeply troubled man. Rather, in Eli, we see a man motivated by restlessness and loyalty to his big brother. As for Charlie... well, I'll let you figure out his motives. Suffice it to say, DeWitt gives credible backstory and motivation for all of his characters, which makes the path that the story unfolds in seem inevitable and satisfying.

I'm not well versed in the western genre, so I'm not sure if there were more tropes that I just didn't catch, but DeWitt certainly hit all my expectations: saloons, gold panning, prospectors, bar wenches, drinking, riding, Indians, and covered wagons.

Really, just read it. It's one of the rare books that I think could connect with just about any reader. 


5 - It's really good; well written and pleasurable 

Do you like Westerns? What does it take for you to pick a book outside of your comfort zone - buzz? Author? Friend recommendation?

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