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The Sisters Brothers Paperback – Oct 15 2011

3.8 out of 5 stars 90 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 344 pages
  • Publisher: House of Anansi Press; Anansi Book Club edition edition (Oct. 15 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1770890327
  • ISBN-13: 978-1770890329
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 2.2 x 23.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 454 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars 90 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #9,399 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


[Patrick] DeWitt has produced a genre-bending frontier saga that is exciting, funny, and perhaps unexpectedly, moving. (Publishers Weekly 2011-01-10)

. . . a lushly voiced picaresque story . . . It's a kind of True Grit told by Tom Waits. (Tom Chiarella Esquire 2011-05-01)

. . . smooth and seamless, shot through with dark humor . . . as easy to slip into as the old HBO series 'Deadwood.' (Carolyn Kellogg LA Times 2011-05-01)

I doubt very much I'll read a funnier, more original book than this picaresque, Wild West tale . . . a terrifically spun yarn . . . masterfully strange and wonderful . . . (Emily Donaldon Toronto Star 2011-05-08)

. . . cinematic, wry and mannered . . . DeWitt['s] ability to distill an image with a couple of well-chosen words and the precision and intensity of his language gives [The] Sisters [Brothers] a dreamlike aura. (Justin Bauer Philadelphia City Paper 2011-05-05)

. . . imaginative and ebullient . . . revels in the hilarious life and times of two gunslingers, Eli and Charlie Sisters. (Caroline Leavitt Boston Globe 2011-05-08)

. . . gory, mesmerizing . . . carries a strong echo of Pulp Fiction . . . seduces us to its characters, and draws us on the strength of deWitt's subtle, nothing-wasted prose. (Karen R. Long Cleveland Plain Dealer 2011-05-08)

. . . a witty noir version of Don Quixote . . . hugely entertaining. (Stella Tillyard Financial Times 2011-05-13)

Violent, funny and strangely touching, [The Sisters Brothers is] destined for a spot on many best-of-2011 lists. (Richard Helm Edmonton Journal 2011-05-14)

. . . [an] unsettling, compelling and deeply strange picaresque novel. (Jake Wallis Simons Independent 2011-05-15)

. . . spirited and often humorous . . . Patrick deWitt's picaresque narrative works with a wink and a nod of reverence, squaring with recent revivals of the Western in popular culture, namely HBO's Deadwood. (J. David Santen Jr. Oregonian 2011-05-14)

The Sisters Brothers has a cadence and flow to its prose and the reader can almost hear Eli's laconic narration as the pages turn . . . here is a hardcover that practically holds a Colt to your head and growls: read me. (Chadwick Ginther Winnipeg Review 2011-05-11)

The Sisters Brothers is a bloody, nightmarish frontier road trip that seems at times like something out of Cormac McCarthy, yet somehow merges laughter and hope with suffering, death and betrayal. [...] Like an alchemist, deWitt has refined and purified the base metals of black comedy and the western to produce literary gold. (Bob Armstrong Winnipeg Free Press 2011-05-14)

DeWitt has invigorated [the] well-worn path [of the classic Western] with wit, style, and imagination. (Jenny Shank New West 2011-05-16)

. . . wryly comic, heartbreakingly sentimental, and immensely likable . . . (Georgia Straight 2011-05-17)

. . . edgy and unyielding . . . The Sisters Brothers gives readers a sense of adventure without ever having to stare down the barrel of a gun. (Kacy Muir Weekender 2011-05-18)

There is something irresistibly cinematic about this quirky tale, a Coen brothers-style strangeness that paradoxically celebrates an unlikely humanity. (Margaret Gunning Edmonton Journal 2011-05-21)

So subtle is deWitt's prose, so slyly note-perfect his rendition of Eli's voice in all its earnestly charming 19th-century syntax, and so compulsively readable his bleakly funny western noir story, that readers will stick by Eli even as he grinds his heel into the shattered skull of an already dead prospector. (Brian Bethune Maclean's 2011-05-19)

. . . original, entrancing and entertaining . . . (Robin Vidimos Denver Post 2011-05-22)

In The Sisters Brothers, a diabolical combination of Laurel and Hardy and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (with a touch of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, just to emphasise the high literary stakes) deWitt has ensured another unforgettable pair their place in fictive lore. (Catherine Taylor Telegraph 2011-05-20)

[Patrick deWitt] frequently crosses into comic territory to produce a story that's weirdly funny, startlingly violent and steeped in sadness. (Ron Charles Washington Post 2011-05-24)

. . . darkly hilarious . . . riveting . . . deWitt welcomingly reimagines the [Western] genre. (Joel Aurora ZYZZYVA 2011-05-12)

Wandering his Western landscape with the cool confidence of a practiced pistoleer, deWitt's steady hand belies a hair trigger, a poet's heart and an acute sense of gallows humor . . . It's easy to imagine John C. Reilly - who is set to star in the film version of the book - lumbering through this breezy, pitch-black comedy's cinematic scenes. (Matthew Love Time Out New York 2011-05-18)

. . . fresh, hilariously anti-heroic, often genuinely chilling, and relentlessly compelling. Yes, this is a mighty fine read, and deWitt a mighty fine writer. (Michael Christie National Post 2011-05-26)

. . . hilarious, dark, twisted and compelling. (Dina Del Bucchia Canada Arts Connect Magazine 2011-06-10)

Bursting with vitality and driven along by a terrific pulpy energy, The Sisters Brothers is the kind of book you may well end up wholeheartedly recommending to friends. (Alastair Mabbott Herald Scotland 2011-06-06)

The Sisters Brothers is a bold, original and powerfully compelling work, grounded in well-drawn characters and a firm hold on narrative. When they say “They don’t write em like that anymore,” they’re wrong. (Robert Wiersema Globe and Mail 2011-06-24)

. . . comic . . . engaging . . . the brothers' poetic banter and the book’s bracing bursts of violence keep this campfire yarn pulled taut. (Christian Williams Onion AV Club 2011-06-23)

. . . a book that’s both a heck of a lot of fun to read and surprisingly compelling when it ends -- one that both your hipster brother and your straight-arrow dad will get a kick out of. (Rob Thomas Wisconsin Capital-Times 2011-06-30)

Patrick deWitt has written an Old West tale that conjures up the colourful images of a spaghetti western filled with stark realism, eccentric characters and black humour . . . If you’re looking for an unforgettable western, grab this one. (Judee Fong Monday Magazine 2011-07-06)

America seems anything but beautiful in Patrick DeWitt’s quirky and ultimately touching new novel The Sisters Brothers. (Steve Whitton Anniston Star 2011-07-08)

[Patrick deWitt] has taken the typical saga and, with laser-sharp prose, masterful storytelling, and an eccentrically perfect combination of humor, violence, lust, and pathos, has turned it completely upside-down. Never has the Old West seemed so simultaneously and page-turningly beautiful, tragic, and comedic, or a cowboy so delightfully neurotic. (Kathleen Brazie Charlotte Viewpoint 2011-07-06)

. . . gritty . . . deadpan . . . very comedic . . . opens new doors in the imagination. (John Vernon New York Times Book Review 2011-07-24)

Fully invested, DeWitt is a hilarious, wry wordsmith and a masterful storyteller. The Sisters Brothers, with its sharp edges and instinctive compassion, is far from historical displacement or genre escapism. It is art worthy of the status, regardless of context or -ism. (Katia Grubisic Rover Arts 2011-07-24)

. . . a darkly comic, compelling and surprising story . . . I doubt I'll find a more entertaining and thoughtful novel this year. (Quentin Mills-Fenn Uptown Winnipeg 2011-08-25)

DeWitt’s inspired, many-layered yarn is as entertaining and as stylistically accomplished as it is unsettling and most original in its revisiting of what remains a glorious genre. (Eileen Battersby Irish Times 2011-09-17)

... sheer brilliance ... (Laurie Grassi Chatelaine 2011-10-30)

From the Back Cover

Shortlisted for the Booker Prize

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.

With The Sisters Brothers, Patrick deWitt pays homage to the classic Western, transforming it into an unforgettable comic tour de force. Filled with a remarkable cast of characters–losers, cheaters, and ne'er-do-wells from all stripes of life–and told by a complex and compelling narrator, it is a violent, lustful odyssey through the underworld of the 1850s frontier that beautifully captures the humor, melancholy, and grit of the Old West and two brothers bound by blood, violence, and love.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Cormac McCarthy, James Carlos Blake, Ron Hansen, Larry McMurtry, and Charles Frazier are the reigning lords of the hard-eyed American historical novel. 'Blood Meridian' can't be called a 'western', any more than 'Wildwood Boys' or 'Desperadoes'. Larry McMurtry comes closest to embracing the tropes of the 'western' genre, but subverts reader expectations at every turn. The frontier was not settled by singing cowboys. Indians weren't simple savages, but they weren't the noble nature-loving quasi-Buddhists that became the Hollywood cliché in the late-sixties and seventies. It was a brutal, vicious battleground, where every random encounter between strangers would very likely end violently.

Patrick DeWitt has joined this august company with `The Sisters Brothers', a novel that combines the flawlessly crafted prose of Charles Frazier or fellow Canadian Michael Ondaatje, with a darkly comical tale that suggests Charles Portis -- 'True Grit' as realized by the Coen Brothers - and James Carlos Blake - particularly his brutal masterpiece `In the Rogue Blood'. Like the latter, DeWitt's book is a story about brothers who are born killers made for a bloody world; like the former, it has a darkly comedic intelligence. As a Canadian myself, I felt bad about NOT feeling bad about the lack of native literary fiber in my pulp-heavy diet. Ondaatje, yes. Atwood, sure. But beyond `Oryx and Crake', I can't remember the last time I read another Canadian novel. Tony Burgess and `Pontypool Changes Everything', I guess, preceded by the loosely connected stories in `The Hellmouths of Bewdley'... 10, 15 years ago. Which means that I'm confessing to being a bad Canadian.
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Although it's certainly not a hard western, it's a strong western-lite. Hitting all the right notes for people who may not be fans of the genre generally. I wouldn't call it phenomenal, but it's engaging.
The core characters (Charlie, Eli, and Tub) are well crafted, while others are, obviously, less fleshed out. Unfortunately the non-core characters end up feeling somewhat punchliney, and end up being used almost exclusively to reflect back on Charlie and Eli.
The plot is pretty simple aside from one or two twists, though the narrative never really strays from it's path. The book also leans HEAVILY on tropes of the western genre.
This may sound a little bit on the negative side, but there are some good reasons the book was so successful. The accessibility and narrative drive create an easy reading experience, and the simplicity of the satellite characters keeps from jostling the plot. It came out at a pretty much perfect time for a mini-western revival, and scratching that itch was obviously a contributing factor, but none of that would have mattered if the book wasn't at least honest with it's characters.
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This is a fine book. Beautiful language, interesting story. I have read that many people find it funny, but I confess that I did not. It was amusing at times, and never predictable or boring, but I never laughed. I do not mean that as criticism. I read it in a rush, which is unusual for me, because I just loved the narrator's words. It felt to me like a "guy book", but my wife's book club (all women) read it and seemed to enjoy it quite a bit as well.
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I did not have high expectations for The Sisters Brothers before reading it, despite the awards and critic's reviews. It was a book club selection. I quickly discovered that it was not a typical read of the Western genre. It was witty, hillarious in parts, utterly readable, and educational to boot. There was a psychological richness to it that did not disappoint.

Pros: I loved the narrator's character, Eli, who is one of the Sister's brothers. It was a complex, rich and quite believeable character that offered plenty of surprises. I also really enjoyed the humour.

Cons: Despite the obvious point that the ending was making and its important message, I did not enjoy the ending. Perhaps that's just me, though. I will let you decide for yourself.
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A new classic. Reminds me of True Grit but different, its own thing. The narrator again is great---that is what carries this book, I think. The great narration of Charlie Sisters. I am looking forward to more from Dewitt.
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I wasn't overly impressed with this book. It is set during the gold rush days but the two brothers come off like they should be English professors rather then two hired killers. The details were not very realistic - particular about the state of dentistry in the 1850s. I read the book, just didn't enjoy it all that much.
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Though this novel is quite different from the other books I have reviewed, which tend to belong to the fantasy genre, I nonetheless was intrigued to read it, because of three things: the bizarre cover, the awards it has won, and descriptions I had heard about its graphic depiction of violence.

Actually, fantasy readers might like this book because it is a fine work of genre fiction: that is to say, the Western. Westerns follow many of the romance conventions that inspire fantasy novels. Just as Sir Lancelot rides into castles, performs deeds for the king, wins fame and fortune, and rides out, back on his quest for the Holy Grail, Charlie and Eli Sisters, the protagonists of DeWitt’s novel, have multiple side-adventures.

Their quest is to fulfill their contract for the mysterious man named the Commodore, by murdering the prospector Hermann Kermit Warm. But then they begin to question the moral nature of their violent and dangerous job…
The adventures the two Sisters brothers may appear to be random, but in midst of the grit and melancholy of the Old West, little insights into the human condition surface, glowing like pieces of gold dust in a mighty California river.
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