My Girly Take: The Sisters Brothers


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So I got laid off a couple of weeks ago (from a job I loathed, don’t pity me too much) and while I’m trying to be productive, I’d really rather just do fun stuff like sit on my ass, eat chips and read books. I hadn’t picked up any good fiction in a while, so I went to Chapters the other day and started to choose a book based on its cover, like I always do 🙂 I liked the font on this one and under the title, there were little labels showing what prizes it had been nominated for and won. Gewgle it cuz I don’t remember, I just know they were big deals. So perhaps in my free time, I’ll review some books from a non-pro POV. Maybe you’re just a gyal looking for a book to read that you understand and can talk about with other people. Either way, I offer an amateur review for erryday people.

A little background as to the kinds of books I like: I like drama, I like people stories with layered characters that I love and hate at the same time, and I tend to lean towards contemporary stuff. From the synopsis, Patrick deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers didn’t seem to provide any of that, so it’s a good thing I judged it based solely on its cover, or else I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy it.

This is the story of two brothers, Eli and Charlie Sisters, who are assassins by profession. Charlie’s made for this shit. No conscience, a quick hand, and a great shot. His younger brother Eli, the narrator, is not. And that’s not to say he’s bad at his job because he’s almost as good as Charlie, but he’s just not designed for it. Physically, he’s a heffer and mentally/emotionally, he’s too human. The plot has them going to California from Oregon to do a job for their employer, the Commodore. They’re meant to kill a man named Hermann Kermit Warm who crossed their boss and come back with “the formula”. All very cryptic.

Throughout their trip, we see the dynamics of their individual personalities and those of their relationship unfold with all the obstacles they meet, both on their way to and at their destination. deWitt examines sibling loyalty and complete disconnect, as well as the need for companionship, even when the company is miserable. It explores how alone you can feel even when the flesh and blood you’ve admired for years is sitting right next to you and it made me personally think about how badly I’d let someone treat me before I would sever my allegiance to them.

Animals die in it which always makes me cry, especially when the animal has a personality. And the humanity in it made me cry. Just the need for a friend and the value of having someone you can trust at your side. That shit always gets to me. Must be an only-child thing. And there’s a lot of action. From Indians to whores to bears to duels, it’s just constantly moving (not in a ridiculous way) and keeping you in.

I don’t want to give anything away, because it has a lot of great turns that I think are really entertaining when they hit you. The book is described as a Western or a parody of a Western, but I don’t want to throw that bone out there because it might deter you from reading it. I remember hating Westerns in lit class so I don’t want to categorize it like that, even if I’m wrong. It’s a really easy read, moves along swiftly and is a little over 300 pages, which I think is totally manageable. It’s being described by a lot of reviewers as the best book they’ve read all year, though I don’t quite know why. It’s definitely good, but I don’t know if it stands out for me among the other stuff I’ve read. OH! Almost forgot: it’s really funny! I laughed out loud more than three times so that impressed me a lot. deWitt has a really great dry sense of humour which made the book even more of a pleasure to read.

If I were to scale it, I’d give it an 8/10. Again, I’m really not a pro and for those of you who are, my review is likely brutally juvenile and shallow, but take from this what you will. At the very least, you’ll be entertained. Give it a whirl and let me know what you think.


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