2 stars · 2011 · fiction · western

review; The Sisters Brothers

Title: The Sisters Brothers
Author: Patrick deWitt
Publisher/Pub. Date: Ecco/April, 2011
Genre: Western, Fiction
Summary: Hermann Kermit Warm is going to die. The enigmatic and powerful man known only as the Commodore has ordered it, and his henchmen, Eli and Charlie Sisters, will make sure of it. Though Eli doesn’t share his brother’s appetite for whiskey and killing, he’s never known anything else. But their prey isn’t an easy mark, and on the road from Oregon City to Warm’s gold-mining claim outside Sacramento, Eli begins to question what he does for a living–and whom he does it for.

A few years ago I discovered that any Man Booker Prize winner (or even nominee) is a book I will love and adore and cherish for all eternity. It reached the point to where I wouldn’t even bother to look at the summary; just knowing it was a Man Booker novel was enough for me.

Earlier in the year I heard about a new novel called The Sisters Brothers and immediately the cover caught my eye. Seriously, how cool is it?? When I found out it earned a spot on the Longlist, I was set. I knew I needed to read it and this month that’s just what I did.

He paused to study my words. He wished to check if they were sincere, I knew, but could not think of a way to ask without sounding overly concerned. The joy went out of him then, and his eyes for a time could not meet mine. I thought, We can all of us be hurt, and no one is exclusively safe from worry and sadness.

Unfortunately. Unfortunately. As much as it pains me to not be thoroughly overwhelmed with a Man Booker novel, The Sisters Brothers just didn’t work for me. It sounded interesting enough and the writing but good, but something wasn’t there. According to GoodReads’ rating system, two stars is okay. And that’s what it was: The Sisters Brothers was an okay book. Nothing more, nothing less.

The humor was so lovely, I will say that much. Out of nowhere a character – usually Eli – said a line that was perfect. I actually wouldn’t allow myself to read this book at lunch unless I was alone. Some parts were that funny.

He was resting in the bath and giving an imaginary speech and I though, What is it about bathing that prompts a person to do this?

I feel like I wasn’t able to understand what was essentially an extremely simply plot: two brothers set out to California to kill a man. And that’s just what they do. They work for a man called the Commodore, but you never find out anything other than that. I would have loved a little more depth to that character, seeing as how he’s responsible for the whole plot.

‘And what is it you two do?’
‘We are Eli and Charlie Sisters.’
‘Oh,’ she said. ‘Oh my.’
‘My father is dead. He was killed, and deserved to be killed.’

The book revolves around two brothers: Eli and Charlie Sisters. They’re known – and feared – throughout the country as killers. When the novel opens, the two are moving on from a previous job that resulted in the loss of both of their horses. The Commodore supplies them with new ones and Eli gets the short end of the stick. His horse Tub is everything you would think a horse named Tub would be. Oddly enough, Tub grew to be one of my favorite characters in the book.

The creak of bed springs suffering under the weight of a restless man is as lonely a sound as I know.

Looking over other reviews, I feel that I’m the odd man out. Everyone else seems to love this book. I wanted to. I wanted to love it: all of the elements were there! I’m not sure what went wrong.

I reentered the cave to stoke the fire, curling up beside it for warmth, but I could not sleep without proper covering and instead spent the rest of the night rewriting lost arguments from my past, altering history so that I emerged victorious.


5 thoughts on “review; The Sisters Brothers

  1. Thanks for the review! I wondered about trying this one because it’s being labeled a Western, and who really wants to read a Western? ;) Do you think the fact that it was a Western entered into your lukewarm liking of the book?

    1. You’re welcome!

      Actually, I was intrigued by it because it was a Western! I had never read any before and was willing to give it a shot.

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