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The Sisters Brothers Paperback – February 14, 2012
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"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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The darkly comic, Western-inspired story takes place in Oregon and California in 1851. The narrator, Eli Sisters, and his brother Charlie Sisters are assassins that are sent to kill Hermann Kermit Warm, an ingenious and likable man, who is accused of stealing from the Sisters' fearsome boss, the Commodore. The series of adventures depicted resemble the narrative form of a picaresque novel, and the chapters are, according to one review, "slightly sketched-in, dangerously close to a film treatment."
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"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.
Eli and Charlie Sisters are notorious killers. They are also, like so many of us, trying to understand why they do what they do and how they fit with the world and family around them. Eli straddles the extreme of intense love and intense violence, and I don't know that we can say exactly what lesson there is to learn from his story, except maybe one of mindfulness.
This book is the smoothest read I've read in a while. THE SISTERS BROTHERS reads quicks and makes you think if you let it. Read it and let it.
But in the end...there was no need for any decision. Every thread of tension was blunted, made of no consequence. It made the entire escapade (and it was a fun escapade) feel meaningless, because the characters, though their circumstances had changed, were blown along in the wind rather than making decisions for themselves. The use of random events made me feel like the author, after setting up the characters' tension, couldn't find a way for them to resolve it, and tossed in some deus ex machina events to "fix" it. I was left with a distinct feeling of, "...that's IT?"
Most recent customer reviews
Eli and Charlie Sisters are not only brothers, but they are assassins put to the...Read more