deWitt, Patrick, (c.2011). The Sisters Brothers. Ecco/Harper Collins. 328 pages. $34.99.
ISBN #: 978-00620412865
It’s the 1850’s in California. The notorious Sisters’ brothers are on a job to kill Hermann Warm. But does he really deserve to die?
Eli and Charlie Sisters work for the Commodore, a powerful man in the Oregon territory who has given them the job of killing Hermann Kermit Warm. But Hermann isn’t so easy to kill and the brothers find themselves traveling to California in the midst of the Gold Rush. Eli, not as enamored with killing and whiskey as his brother, questions his profession and the reasons they are doing it. Full of quirky characters, violent exchanges and heartwarming realizations, this western transports the reader onto the trails of the old west and the choices made in a world without many laws.
This book is wonderfully written in a spare and gritty style from the point of view of the younger brother, Eli Sister who is questioning his purpose in life as he follows his brother Charlie to complete a job. At times immensely humorous, the narrative captures the thoughts and observations of a young man caught up in a violent world. This is a fast-paced, action-packed adventure that might leave you a little saddle sore from not being able to put it down. And hats off to the designer, Suet Yee Chong, who’s unique style adds to overall appeal of this western.
The Outcasts by Kathleen Kent. True Grit by Charles Portis
Book Discussion Questions:
1. Out of all the offbeat characters that the brothers meet on their travels do you have a favorite, is one more memorable than another?
2. The novel is full of gems of wisdom as “little victories” from Eli’s mother and from Eli. What is your favorite observation or bit of wisdom in the novel?
3. Several odd characters have an impact on the story, including the weeping man, the witch, and the poisonous little girl. What is their function in the story?
Reasons for selection:
The novel was chosen as one of our Book Discussion selections. I’m so glad it was. A truly great read and I’m looking forward to the discussion.
“I (Eli) thought of this twitching prospector and the chicken-holding prospector and the dead, headless prospector and said, ‘It would seem to me that the solitude of working in the wilds is not healthy for a man.'” (p. 230)