Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Sisters Brothers

I just finished The Sister's Brothers by Patrick deWitt and thought I should put down a few words about it.

My first impression seems to be along the lines of, "For a book about gunslingers in the "wild west" during the Gold Rush in California there's not a ton of in your face action."

My second thought is about how when you don't have your contacts in, this cover looks like an evil cat...
Taking place in 1850 this tale follows the Sisters Brothers, Eli and Charlie. Charlie, being the eldest is the leader, but Eli (the character from whose point of view the book is told) has some problems with their way of life.

As expected for a western the reader gets to meet many colorful characters: catty whores, big man bosses and little man bosses, drunkards, gentlemen dandies and the two (or really one) brave steed the brothers ride. You see, Charlie, being the lead man, got the better horse, Nimble, while Eli was stuck with Tub, a horse that proves his spirit several times over. When Eli talks about the horses, Tub stands in his and Eli's relationship in the same place that Eli stands in his and Charlie's. In fact, most of the animals that we meet in this book serve as significant symbols and omens to future events. They are often noted when Eli is having some kind of epiphany or when something is being brought to his attention.

As I said before, there isn't a whole lot of in your face action in the book. Eli and his brother are professional killers so when guns are drawn it is treated as an everyday occurrence. There was some true, sinister horror contained in the book too. I think the worst character out of a book full of killers and deranged people is an eight year old girl. Seriously.

Mostly, though, the book is about Eli finally becoming his own person and the journey it takes to actually get him there. I closed the book feeling that, even though at the end, Eli was his own man he was still cheated out of coming to it on his own. 

This book managed to capture my attention almost immediately and I ended up reading more than half of the book in one sitting. For a book that tops 300 pages that is some impressive writing skill.

I would recommend this book to people who like human studies, westerns, or, oddly enough, horror. There is a pretty disturbing thread running through the entire book. Some magic, but it is subtle and it is never known if the magic is real, or if it is the result of a superstitious mind.