Customer Reviews


511 Reviews
5 star:
 (220)
4 star:
 (169)
3 star:
 (69)
2 star:
 (32)
1 star:
 (21)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


243 of 250 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hired Guns
Where to begin? The Sisters Brothers is without a doubt one of the most original and engaging books I've picked up in awhile. After reading, and thoroughly enjoying Mr. DeWitt's debut novel "Ablutions," I was looking forward to reading this.

"Ablutions" is a brief fantastic story of a barman who works at a downtown LA dive. Told in the second person, it mines...
Published on April 26, 2011 by William Kennedy

versus
68 of 83 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't Judge a Book by its Cover
I wanted to love this book. It jumped off of my pile of shortlisted Booker Prize nominees and demanded to be read first. Everything about it shouted "Yes, it's literature, but IT's FUN." The premise is that of a classic picaresque novel -- Charlie and Eli Sisters, two professional assassins in 1850 are sent by their employer to hunt down and kill Herman Kermit Warm who...
Published on October 17, 2011 by A. Budner


‹ Previous | 1 252 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

243 of 250 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hired Guns, April 26, 2011
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Sisters Brothers: A Novel (Hardcover)
Where to begin? The Sisters Brothers is without a doubt one of the most original and engaging books I've picked up in awhile. After reading, and thoroughly enjoying Mr. DeWitt's debut novel "Ablutions," I was looking forward to reading this.

"Ablutions" is a brief fantastic story of a barman who works at a downtown LA dive. Told in the second person, it mines similar terrority as Denis Johnson and Bukowski, but with a fresh and inventive narrative. For some reason, I expected "The Sisters Brothers" to be more of the same. Another tale of the down and out, the hopeless and deranged. Patrick DeWitt has grown leaps and bounds since his debut and gives us something unique - a good old fashioned Western that rips along like a horse set loose from the corral for the first time in years.

This novel bends genres and acheives something greater than just being a Western. In fact, the story itself is something universal, it just happens to be set during the early days of the gold rush.

Eli and Charlie Sisters are two hired guns sent to California to kill a man named Hermann Kermit Warm. They don't question why he has to die, they simply follow orders. The journey to find Warm is a large portion of the book and allows us the chance to see how different Eli and Charlie are from each other. Charlie is brutal and selfish, a cold hearted killer with vicious instincts, while Eli is a bit softer, open to the beauty in life - or at least the possibility of finding happiness someday.

Eli narrates the story with thoughtful observations and through him we begin to understand the complicated relationship between the two brothers.

I read this book in a storm over two nights. Novels often fall into two categories, at least as far as reviewers are concerned - the literary, and the genre books. Literary means difficult and serious while genre (mysteries, sci-fi, paranormal, romance etc.) are easy and mindless reads. Of course, this is not always the case but it is a hard stigma to fight. What Mr. DeWitt does is completely ignore whatever classification his novel may be given, and tells us a ripping good story full of humor, violence, and heart. Charlie Sisters knows a little something about the way of the world and how greedy and selfish people are at their core. To find a way to be someone different in the midst of all that is Eli's goal, and Mr. DeWitt takes us right along with him.

I loved this book. I loved the way it was told and the way it made me feel. Highly recommended for anyone and everyone who enjoys great fiction.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


65 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Run-amuck Imagination, April 26, 2011
By 
This review is from: The Sisters Brothers: A Novel (Hardcover)
This deWitt is someone to watch out for. Liked his first, Abulutions, although I had an acquaitance going through the DTs and rehab just about the time it came out; deWitt was a bit too spot on for me, given the timing. Now here comes a book that...well...how do people come up with this wildly imaginative, unique, witty characters, plotting, tone? The novel is episodic, but hangs together well. There is a bit of archetypal skeleton under the book: quest into new territory by protagonist(s), allowing for new experiences, encounters, growth into self, some moral decisions to be made, and then return in the aftermath. There is a fun-house hall of mirrors similarity here to McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses. This novel is darkly comedic though. I've hit a string of books recently that have had interesting style, but predictable plot...once you get down the literary tricks and style (when I start a book I like to immerse myself into it...read the first 1/3 to 1/2), no need it seems to finish; just read the last couple of pages to confirm what you already suspected. Not here. Great wedding of plot to style to imaginative twists and turns. The book gets even stronger as you go along. One of the highlights of the year so far in reading for me. If deWitt has staying power he'll be his own version of Delillo or Stanley Elkins; I really, really hope this is so.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


119 of 134 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny, Entertaining, But Not for Everyone, July 13, 2011
This review is from: The Sisters Brothers: A Novel (Hardcover)
The Sisters brothers are a couple of hired killers, not much bothered by pesky scruples, and are employed by a man with even fewer scruples. They are headed to Gold Rush country in the 1850s, sent to kill a thief, no questions asked.

Eli, the less violent of the two, tells us his story, and does it in wonderful, formal language of the times. I really liked Eli despite his considerable shortcomings.

As advertised, this book is filled with some very dark humor and terrific, quirky characters. I really enjoyed reading about the brothers' travails, about Eli's very enthusiastic introduction to toothbrushes and toothpowders, his almost compulsive desire to get rid of his money, and his attempts at romance.

Given that, if you are an animal, you don't want to be anywhere near the Sister brothers - it is a given that things will go horribly wrong. I really, really liked Tub, a long-suffering horse. Don't get me wrong: people don't fare any better, and there is more than enough gruesome description to go around. It's just that I really, really hate to read about animal cruelty so that unexpected theme knocked off a star for me. All in all, if you are very sensitive to reading about bad things happening to good animals even when you know it's fiction, you might want to skip this one. For everyone else, it is a fun, odd, escapist read.

Thank you to ECCO for giving me an uncorrected proof copy of this book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


68 of 83 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't Judge a Book by its Cover, October 17, 2011
By 
A. Budner (Suburban Philly) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Sisters Brothers: A Novel (Hardcover)
I wanted to love this book. It jumped off of my pile of shortlisted Booker Prize nominees and demanded to be read first. Everything about it shouted "Yes, it's literature, but IT's FUN." The premise is that of a classic picaresque novel -- Charlie and Eli Sisters, two professional assassins in 1850 are sent by their employer to hunt down and kill Herman Kermit Warm who may, or may not, have stolen something. In the course of their journey from Oregon to California, at the height of the gold rush, they meet a panoply of misfits and losers who provide a steady stream of often humorous incidents that help to explicate the brother's relationship. Add to this set-up, a narrative voice, provided by Eli, the younger of the two gunslinging brothers, Eli, that has a deadpan simplicity that is oddly appealing. And, it is worth noting, it has the best cover I've seen in a long time.

With so much going for it, why doesn't Patrick deWitt's novel deliver? Ultimately it is a failure to integrate the disparate events into a cohesive plot or arc for character development. Things happen and some of them are funny, but they don't lay the groundwork for growth in Eli's character that the form demands. It doesn't help that once the brothers find their target that the plot twist that leads to the climax of the book is singularly flat and generates no tension. It also didn't help that there are historical incongruities (particularly around the state of dentistry) that are jarring and out-of-place. Even in a story that in no way purports to be realist, realistic details would help to sustain the truth that can be found in absurdity. deWitt is a talented writer, and while I don't think he shouldn't win the Booker for this outing, I do look forward to seeing what he comes up with next.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes good guys wear black, August 8, 2011
By 
Candiss Carter (Washington state, US) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Sisters Brothers: A Novel (Hardcover)
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt wasn't what I was expecting. I was expecting a straight-forward Western tale, maybe with a bit of humor, perhaps updated a bit for a modern palate. I don't "do" Westerns, as a general rule. But I was pleasantly surprised to find a tale of depth, wit, and humanity shot through with an intriguing plot full of twists and characters refreshingly nuanced and believable.

The titular Sisters Brothers, Eli and Charlie, are killers for hire. They get the job done, and they love and feud as only true kin can. Their fraternal loyalty is fierce, and their bickering fiercer. Charlie loves his job, relishes every unsavory bit, and has big plans for an upwardly-mobile future within his organization. Eli has a (charming and surprisingly naïve) romantic streak, as well as a thoughtful and nagging conscience. Every step of the way, Eli wrestles internally with himself and his choices, and externally with his brother's choices, and they both must fight to survive in an unforgiving and uninviting world.

The plot was rollicking and full of adventure, and the reading was brisk. I never found myself disinterested or wishing the author would hurry things along. As adventure tales go, I felt this one was practically perfect. Furthermore, deWitt injects his narrative with just the right amount of humor, both slapstick and sly, sophisticated and crude. But where the story truly shines, what raises it to something greater than a simple Western yarn is the subtle development of character, especially regarding Eli Sisters. Here is a man, a scoundrel and deeply flawed, but with a rich reserve of warmth and sentimentality. Eli is introspective and mulling, almost comically so considering the setting and his occupation, and he harbors guilt, regret, longing for love, longing for home, nostalgia, and even compassion far beyond the bounds one might expect. As a contract killer, Eli wears a metaphorical black hat, but deep down he's one of the good guys.

The Sisters Brothers was a delightful picaresque, following the trials and triumphs of two colorful and believable anti-heroes as they carve a name for themselves in the hard-baked soil of Gold Rush-era California. It's a buddy caper, a road story, a psychological study, a banter-rich comedy, a morality play, a satire, and a thrilling adventure all rolled into one. I highly recommend it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Filled with potential and an amazing voice, but never quite finds its mark, February 21, 2012
This review is from: The Sisters Brothers (Paperback)
I should love this book. If you described its characters and plot to me I would love it. If you read me passages from its fantastic prose I would love them. If you described the themes and tone and pace I would love all of them. But for some reason, when I actually read it, nothing quite jelled. There isn't enough humor for it to be funny. There isn't enough action for it to be exciting. There isn't enough meditation on the human experience for it to be enlightening. There isn't enough narrative for it to be entertaining. It could probably have been cut in half by a more discerning editor and made for a great novella or even short story. That isn't to say it is bad, because it is not. The antiquated voice that DeWitt strikes is brilliant and spot on. The characters (at least the two leads) are well rounded and interesting. The settings are intriguing and the subject matter feels fresh despite a recent spat of neo-western literature and film. It's a nice read if you don't have anything to do on a rainy weekend. But this is not the next Cormac McCarthy.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Wild Weird West, June 13, 2011
By 
Curmudgeonly Doc (Central Valley, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Sisters Brothers: A Novel (Hardcover)
Pretty much meets the definition of picaresque; in this case in Gold Rush California and Oregon. Not quite Cowboy Noir (although there is plenty of wanton brutality), there is plenty of humor in the witty dialog and narrative, as well as meaningful observations on family, human connections, etc.

Yes, it owes a lot to Portis' True Grit, and maybe to Deadwood, as well as Faulkner, Twain, McCarthy, etc., etc., but what literature doesn't owe something to its forebears? This is an original and delightful (if you can look beyond the mindless killing, but, along with the language, you have to suspend a little disbelief.) read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Riot, June 20, 2011
This review is from: The Sisters Brothers: A Novel (Hardcover)
What a peculiar story this was. At first, I won't lie, the western theme was not a huge selling point for me. Hesitation was rampant. As soon as I started reading, however, I fell in love with the entire setting.
The book is mainly an adventure story. Since the characters are killers hired by a mysterious man call the Commodore, the reader expects lots of action, lots of gun-slinging scenes, but there aren't many of those at all. If any. And that's what makes this book work so well, it breaks away from every stereotype. The characters are rugged yet vulnerable, with a penchant for depression and melancholy. Eli, the narrator, has a soft spot for his handicapped horse and Charlie, Eli's brother, has a need to be the leader at all times.
Their misadventures were hilarious. Nothing seemed to go right for the two brothers. The bond between them is well developed, with the usual ups and downs that siblings experience, only with guns and horses added to the mix. Some scenes had me laughing out loud at the madness. At moments it felt like a comedy skit.
Don't make the mistake of not picking this book up because of the seemingly cowboy-ish theme, this is definitely a book to own and enjoy.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars John Wayne He's Not..., October 14, 2011
This review is from: The Sisters Brothers: A Novel (Hardcover)
Meet Eli Sisters, the narrator of this genre-bending, riveting, highly original work by Patrick DeWitt.

A John Wayne he's not. In fact, he's anything but. He and his brother Charlie comprise the infamous Sisters brothers, guns-for-hire who embark on a thrills-and-spills adventure to follow the commands of an enigmatic character called the Commodore, to kill a man named Hermann Kermit Warm.

The thing is, Eli Sisters has a moral complexity that his older brother lacks. He's a tubby man who romanticizes the whores and cleaning women he runs into, in a sort of Don Quixote-ish way. He's obsessed with his oral health after an unanticipated run-in with a would-be dentist educates him on the joys of the toothbrush. He loves his rundown one-eyed horse named Tub and goes to great lengths to make sure he doesn't end up in the horse farm. And he's determined that the killing of Kermit Warm will be his very last.

He muses, "It came over me all at once, then: I was not an efficient killer. I was not and had never been and would never be. Charlie had been able to make use of my temper was all; he had manipulated me, exploited my personality, just as a man prods a rooster before a cockfight." And before a would-be murder, he observes, "My flesh and scalp started to ring and tingle and I became someone other than myself, or I became my second self, and this person was highly pleased to be stepping from the murk and into the living world where he might do just as he wished. I felt at once both lust and disgrace and wondered, Why do I relish this reversal to animal?"

As in any journey - and this one is a journey to redefine brotherhood and to define self - there are many adventures along the way. The Sisters Brothers encounter a hotel maven named Mayfield who treats them to a Dante's inferno type of experience, and an entire gaggle of ne'er-do-wells and lusty women who play for our sympathy as well as sometimes, our disgust.

Even though there are many comedic moments, The Brothers Sisters is not a comedy. For one thing, Patrick DeWitt never holds his characters up to ridicule; we end up really liking Eli Sisters for all his faults. In some ways, he rises to Every Man status - a man exploring an unpredictable terrain where danger lurks at every corner.

And while the novel pays homage to the Old West, the gold rush, and other legends of western America, it also stakes out its own territory. It's gritty, inventive, distinctive, and unexpectedly moving.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Psychotic gothic, June 30, 2013
By 
keetmom (South Africa) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
"The Sisters Brothers" was released to great reviews. On the back of such recommendations, I bought the book some time ago. It has taken me a while to get into this unusual account of criminal life occasioned by the opportunities for illicit wealth creation during the California gold rush. Patrick de Witt is a good story teller and his plot and character development unfold very cleverly. The more I got to know the hired guns Charlie and Eli Sister, the less I liked them and this feeling of discomfort grew throughout the book as their schemes for self advancement got more violent and more gruesome. There is no one to like in this book filled with a bizarre cast of characters that would keep a whole conference hall of psychiatrists busy for weeks. However, justice of sorts is delivered in the end and de Witt's literary talents are sufficient to keep even the more sensitive of his readers along until the end of this wild ride.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 252 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

The Sisters Brothers: A Novel
The Sisters Brothers: A Novel by Patrick deWitt (Hardcover - April 26, 2011)
$24.99 $19.43
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Rate and Discover Movies
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.