Monday, January 9, 2012

Brotherly love

An enjoyable western novel is as common as frogs in a desert. That's why Patrick DeWitt's The Sisters Brothers is something that everybody should read. It's like western on crack.

So in DeWitt's Booker-shortlisted novel, we meet two brothers famous for being hired gunmen -- Eli and Charlie Sisters. Charlie is more brash than Eli, who seems to be falling in love with women who will simply give him the time of day. So when the Commodore decides to hire the brothers to murder someone named Herman Kermit Warm, it is Charlie who comes up with the plan and proposes to take a much bigger cut of the blood money from the Commodore.

Even though the novel's titled The Sisters Brothers, I think that Eli is the heart of the novel. It is through his character that DeWitt makes his narrative. And it is Eli who begins to question the way the two brothers lead their lives.

What's hilarious is how the two brothers find themselves in outrageous situations and yet Eli's voice is still deadpan. And the banter between the two brothers is priceless. One will always be surprised at the characters brothers meet along the way, from Oregen to San Francisco during the Gold Rush and finally to the Sierra foothills where Herman Kermit Warm is supposed to be.
...'What about you, brother? Are you up for a fight?'
Squinting, he asked, 'What's that under your coat?'
'A gift from the girl.'
'Is there to be a parade?'
'It's a simple bit of fabric to recall her by. A bonboniere, as Mother would say.'
He sucked his teeth. 'You should not wear it,' he said decisively.
'It's very expensive material, I think.'
'The girl has played a joke on you.'
'She is a serious person.'
'You look like the prize goose.' [page 147]
So now I've read 4 out of the 6 Booker-shortlisted novels in 2011. I'm with the Booker jury on their shortlist, for they chose novels that are enjoyable and readable. And I have to say that The Brothers Sisters is my favorite so far.

Read this book if:
  1. You have a soft spot for westerns.
  2. You love witty dialogues and outrageous situations.
  3. You'll read anything with the word "Booker Prize" on the cover.


fantaghiro23 said...

Read this recently, too, and found it very funny. I liked the way DeWitt purposely made them not sound like the stereotypical Old West cowboys, so that much of the humor is in the way they express themselves.

Cath @ Constance Reader said...

I've heard a lot about this book, but this is the first review that's really convinced me to read it. So, thanks!

Peter S. said...

Hello, fantaghiro23! Yes, funny indeed! In fact, this may be the funniest novel I've read recently.

Hi, Cath! Oh, it's a very satisfying novel. I'm sure you'll like it!

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

I have yet to read this one but continue to see it popping up everywhere.

Peter S. said...

Hi, Sheila! Happy New Year!