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From Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B004CFA91Y
- Publisher : Ecco; Reprint edition (April 26, 2011)
- Publication date : April 26, 2011
- Language : English
- File size : 1435 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 281 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #50,822 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Reviews with images
Top reviews from the United States
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Well, in this book, none of that happens. What happens instead is the story of the Sisters brothers, a couple of cold-blooded killers who take a long journey to kill someone, and kill a number of people on the way. I don't know how I found my way to this book--perhaps it was recommended to me for my high praise of Blood Meridian, a more ambitious and similarly perfect book. While the two stories share a number of narrative waypoints, where Cormac McCarthy's masterwork is bleak and austere, Patrick deWitt achieves a surprising warmth. I often found myself laughing out loud at the arch and understated dialog. Think of the letters in Ken Burns's Civil War documentaries: the flat, unaffected pronouncements of men facing death--or dealing it. An example: after killing an adversary's henchmen and robbing him, the victim laments how his soft life led him to be so incautious with two known ruffians, and the brothers reflect:
‘He describes his inaction and cowardice as laziness,’ Charlie said.
‘And with five men dead,’ I said, ‘he describes our overtaking his riches as easy.’
‘He has a describing problem,’ said Charlie.
Or Eli's observation: "The creak of bed springs suffering under the weight of a restless man is as lonely a sound as I know."
As it must, the brothers' metaphysical journey parallels their physical journey. They are hard men, but not beyond some redemption. You'll find yourself at once cheering for them and the man they set out to kill. At some point, I stopped reading a book and joined them on their odyssey. Now, after three too-short days it is over, and I find myself profoundly depressed that Charlie and Eli Sisters have moved on. I don't think I'll shoot anything. But if I have to, I'll have my brother count to three for me.
The brothers are sent on an assignment to kill a gentleman named Hermann Kermit Warm. Their rich contractor, called the Commodore, does not explain why they are sent to kill him and the brothers are not concerned about being left in the dark. Their casual nature towards killing people is disturbing. If this kind of thing upsets you, then walk away now and read something else. During their travels from Oregon to San Francisco they come across mundane and odd situations that devolve into bloody violence. The frequent bickering between Eli and Charlie serves up many funny moments. The novel jumps back-and-forth between farce and serious circumstances. Eli relationship with his horse Tub was oddly touching. The ending I found to be especially poignant and consistent with the story's hardscrabble callous environment.
Mr. DeWitt's novel is not dark as much as brutal and coarse. I was conflicted as to if I wanted the Sisters brothers to die or live at its conclusion, but I was eager throughout the book in knowing how the thing wrapped up. There were enough mysteries, humor, and impromptu adventures that kept me absorbed to the very end. The only thing that I found odd was two short chapters called 'Intermission' involving Eli's (I guess) transcendental visions. Apparently, it takes a smarter, more creative brain than mine to understand their significance. That’s okay if I missed the point of the ‘Intermissions’ because, overall, ‘The Sisters Brothers’ was a highly entertaining novel. It’s a pretty good bet I’ll read it again sometime in the future…unless, of course, this bald Mainer goes to that big ranch in the sky.
It is often said that it's not about the destination, UT the journey. That is never more true than in this poignant tale which ends somewhat abruptly and sour. Though the finality, or lack thereof in the book was upsetting, the charm of the previous 3/4 is more than enough to earn it four stars and a place among some of my favorite westerns ever.
Top reviews from other countries
There is nothing predictable about the storyline. While we know the main plot from the outset, it’s an interesting undulating route they navigate through the narration, either planned or unplanned.
It was a joy to just lift this book and let the words flow off. The chapters are short and punchy, underpinning a good solid pace to the story. I actually enjoyed the experience of reading this book.
Their tale is told by Eli, the older brother, who is tortured by memories and his own self-reflection, and looking for love and a way out of his savage life. Charlie, the leader and more forceful personality, has his own demons, drink and the shadow of their ghastly childhood with a violent father.
The madness of the Californian goldrush in 1851, the greed, filth, desperation, saloons, Indians, guns and horses aplenty, is all there, with astonishing tales of hardship, luck and reversals of fortune.
The men the brothers are hunting to kill turn out to be something very unexpected, and the story twists shockingly and the brothers are left changed for ever.
I'm unsurprised the book was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, this is both a book you won't want to put down, and a deep, many layered work of literature with layers of symbolism, thoughtful and significant pronouncements on life, man's relation to man and animals, morals, the nature of love and family.
It's sad, funny, profound, wickedly irreverent, and always surprising.
After seeing the film and reading the book I can't decide which is better. They are very very different, but both equally good in their own way.
Initially I found the book engaging, midway through my attention began to wander, wondering whether it would actually amount to anything much. For me the ending helped make the book. Although odd, it seemed to flow from what had come before, and offered a sort of resolution that the beautifully described wanderings were calling out for. Worth a read if you are looking for something a bit unusual, but it won’t be to everyone’s taste.