Monday, July 18, 2011
Book sixteen: The Sisters Brothers by Patrick Dewitt.
The Sisters Brothers tells the story of two brothers, Charlie and Eli Sisters. Eli acts as the narrator for the tale. The two brothers are a couple of wild-west thugs who work for a frontier bad guy. Charlie and Eli are sent to track down a character named Herman Kermit Warm (what a brilliant name for a mysterious character in a Western). The two travel through Oregon and San Francisco on their way to Warm's California claim and along the way they encounter one adventure after another.
As narrator, Eli hopes for a better life than his current existence filled with violence and cruelty. While Charlie seems content with the status quo. As we get to know the characters better, their relationship gives the novel a literary flair that questions the Western as we know it. Charlie and Eli are surprisingly well spoken for a couple cowboy henchmen. And amid the violence (and there is some gruesome violence) there is plenty of fine-tuned humor like the running joke surrounding Eli's discovery of teeth brushing.
The Sisters Brothers is a surprising, modern take on the Western that shakes up cliches and asks readers to reconsider what it means to be the good guy.