Thursday, June 9, 2011
Book Review: "The Sisters Brothers" by Patrick deWitt
It is the 1850s in Oregon, and brothers Charlie and Eli Sisters have garnered a reputation for take-no-prisoners violence as henchmen for a local business tycoon known as "The Commodore." One day, The Commodore sends Charlie and Eli to San Francisco to hunt down and kill Hermann Kermit Warm, who is mining for gold. Eli and Charlie don't know why The Commodore wants Warm dead, but it's their job to carry out his orders. Charlie relishes this life, and leads Eli to track Warm down, but Eli isn't so sure this is the life he wants to lead, although his whole life has been spent following his brother.
The journey to San Francisco is a colorful and eventful one, laden with violence and whiskey. They encounter an odd bunch of people, and Eli even thinks about his desire for a romantic relationship at some point. But Charlie keeps drawing them back to their ultimate purpose, and doesn't want to discuss with Eli the possibility of living a different type of life. And when they arrive in San Francisco, everything gets far more complicated than either of them imagined.
I stumbled upon this book as I was looking at another, but I'm grateful to have found it. This isn't quite a "western," but more the story of a relationship between brothers as well as a man exploring what he should do with his future when his entire life has been pointed toward doing one thing in particular. I found Eli's character to be tremendously complex, Charlie's not as much so, and at times I felt the violence to be a little excessive, although I recognize this is a book about a pair of killers! All in all, I thought this was an enjoyable and captivating story definitely worth reading.