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The Sisters Brothers [Kindle Edition]

Patrick deWitt
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (599 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $14.99
Kindle Price: $3.99
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Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers

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Book Description

“A gorgeous, wise, riveting work of, among other things, cowboy noir…Honestly, I can’t recall ever being this fond of a pair of psychopaths.”
—David Wroblewski, New York Times bestselling author of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

“A masterful, hilarious picaresque that keeps company with the best of Charles Portis and Mark Twain…a relentlessly absorbing feat of novelistic art.”
—Wells Tower, author of Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned

The Sisters Brothers is dark, dark, and funny, both ha ha and strange…and you’ll love the characters you meet along the way.”
—Tom Franklin, New York Times bestselling author of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

Patrick deWitt, a young writer whose “stop-you-in-your-tracks writing has snuck up on the world” (Los Angeles Times), brings us The Sisters Brothers, a darkly comic, outrageously inventive novel that offers readers a decidedly off-center view of the Wild, Wild West.  Set against the back-drop of the great California Gold Rush, this odd and wonderful tour de force at once honors and reshapes the traditional western while chronicling the picaresque misadventures of two hired guns, the fabled Sisters brothers. The most original western since the Coen Brothers re-interpreted True Grit—you’ve never met anyone quite like The Sisters Brothers.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Dewitt's bang-up second novel (after Ablutions) is a quirky and stylish revisionist western. When a frontier baron known as the Commodore orders Charlie and Eli Sisters, his hired gunslingers, to track down and kill a prospector named Herman Kermit Warm, the brothers journey from Oregon to San Francisco, and eventually to Warm's claim in the Sierra foothills, running into a witch, a bear, a dead Indian, a parlor of drunken floozies, and a gang of murderous fur trappers. Eli's deadpan narration is at times strangely funny (as when he discovers dental hygiene, thanks to a frontier dentist dispensing free samples of "tooth powder that produced a minty foam") but maintains the power to stir heartbreak, as with Eli's infatuation with a consumptive hotel bookkeeper. As more of the brothers' story is teased out, Charlie and Eli explore the human implications of many of the clichés of the old west and come off looking less and less like killers and more like traumatized young men. With nods to Charles Portis and Frank Norris, DeWitt has produced a genre-bending frontier saga that is exciting, funny, and, perhaps unexpectedly, moving. (May)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


“Thrilling…a lushly voiced picaresque story…so richly told, so detailed, that what emerges is a weird circus of existence, all steel shanks and ponies, gut shots and medication poured into the eyeholes of the dying. At some level, this too is a kind of revenge story, marvelously blurry.”

Product Details

  • File Size: 938 KB
  • Print Length: 339 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0062041282
  • Publisher: Ecco; Reprint edition (April 26, 2011)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004CFA91Y
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,851 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
249 of 257 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hired Guns April 26, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
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.
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67 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Run-amuck Imagination April 26, 2011
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 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 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.
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125 of 141 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny, Entertaining, But Not for Everyone July 13, 2011
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.
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71 of 86 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't Judge a Book by its Cover October 17, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
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.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars 'The Sisters Brothers' -- Saving Canadian Literature From Itself
Cormac McCarthy, James Carlos Blake, Ron Hansen, Larry McMurtry, and Charles Frazier are the reigning lords of the hard-eyed American historical novel. Read more
Published 3 days ago by C. K. Lidster
5.0 out of 5 stars A well-told tale.
This was a gritty story, but told with a gentleness that is reminiscent of Larry McMurtry. I felt a little sad when I finished the book.
Published 4 days ago by Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars best book I've read in years
I've read this book three times now, once to myself and twice outloud. I cried all three times at the end and laughed out loud at the deftly placed humor strewn throughout this... Read more
Published 9 days ago by Rachel Todd
5.0 out of 5 stars Mivie Material
I immediately enjoyed this book.The premise of a couple of notorious Guns for Hire is a different plot line than I normally come across. Read more
Published 19 days ago by Gerrilyn Aubin
4.0 out of 5 stars Blood Meridian Light
Easy read, great dialogue and early western setting....reminiscent of Blood Meridian. Loved it!
Published 26 days ago by Richard Hoffman
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Published 26 days ago by Laura Gutierrez
4.0 out of 5 stars This is a hoot -- funny in very dark ways and a cool exploration of...
This is a hoot -- funny in very dark ways and a cool exploration of the Gold Rush era. I couldn't put it down and will read more by this author.
Published 26 days ago by jim norton
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun read
This book combines humor and drama. It reminded me of the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid the way the brothers acted.
Published 29 days ago by SAC
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book
I loved this book. The clever use of language and the dry humor made this journey with gold-rush-era hit men completely engaging.
Published 1 month ago by Sarah Redbird Cox
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
very interesting
Published 1 month ago by schapin
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More About the Author

Patrick deWitt was born in 1975 on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. He has also lived in California, Washington, and Oregon, where he currently resides with his wife and son. He has worked as a laborer, a clerk, a dishwasher, and a bartender. Ablutions is his first novel.

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