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The Sisters Brothers: A Novel | [Patrick deWitt]

The Sisters Brothers: A Novel

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....
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Publisher's 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.

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.

©2011 Patrick deWitt (P)2011 HarperCollins Publishers

What the Critics Say

“…gritty, as well as deadpan and often very comic…DeWitt has chosen a narrative voice so sharp and distinctive…it’s very narrowing of possibilities opens new doors in the imagination.” (New York Times Book Review)

“Weirdly funny, startlingly violent and steeped in sadness… It’s all rendered irresistible by Eli Sisters, who narrates with a mixture of melancholy and thoughtfulness.” (Washington Post)

“[T]here’s something cinematic about Mr. deWitt’s unadorned prose style, which at first made this reader do a double-take—can this be serious?—only to continue flicking the pages with pleasure.” (Wall Street Journal)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (389 )
5 star
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3.9 (329 )
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4.2 (331 )
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 06-20-12
    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 06-20-12

    A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Beautiful, Absurd & Melancholic Frontier Noir."

    Absurd, fantastic, and the narrative almost measures up to the cover art. A book about two frontier assassin brothers in search of the 'pot of gold' over the rainbow. Two killer angels seeking to "understand why, or how they might change things for the better." This novel is about that quest. A quest to change, to understand, to alter lots, cheat fate and better predicaments. Fundamentally, however, it is about the things that link us: blood, death, family, lust and greed. The book's absurdity lacks nihilism, its craziness exists without meanness, and the killings and murders seem to echo with a beautiful melancholic fatalism of Charles Portis and Mark Twain.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy 06-19-12
    Kathy 06-19-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Oddly compelling!"

    I loved this book, despite my general avoidance of stories featuring this much violence. But the viiolence is so embedded in the context of the times that it seems, if not okay, at least understandable. This is a perfect Coen brothers story--I would love to see it filmed. The dialogue is pitch perfect and the narration is sensational. I truly could not stop listening--got lots of extra exercise in just to have an excuse to keep listening. Enjoy!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lisa 11-14-11
    Lisa 11-14-11 Member Since 2002
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    "If you liked "True Grit"..."

    And I mean the book, "True Grit", you will find much to like in this story. I don't, as a rule, read in this genre. But the folks at "Books on the Nightstand" recommended this, so I listened.

    First of all, the language is wonderful! Again, if you've read the book "True Grit", or watched the Coen brothers version of that tale, you will find pleasant similarity. However, this book is not for children. Sensitive adolescents may find the violence too much.

    The reader is amazing! He reads each character with real style.

    The story is a bit predictable. But its a western! All happens as is should, with just a few twists to keep things moving along.

    I'm glad I found this little gem of an audiobook. I smiled all the way through, and I'll bet you will too.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryan Somerville, MA, United States 10-30-11
    Ryan Somerville, MA, United States 10-30-11 Member Since 2005

    Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Coen Brothers-esque"

    Two brothers roam the Gold Rush-era Old West on their latest mission as hired killers. Both have done bad things, but one, who tells the story, is a little less bad than the other. The Sisters Brothers feels like the literary equivalent of a Coen Brothers movie (could the title be a homage?): quirky, slightly surreal, and mixing moments of violence and droll humor. The pair go from one picaresque misadventure to another, encountering mountain men, self-important gold barons, little girls with strange visions, and dentists, and getting into comic arguments with each other. I enjoyed the protagonist and his earnest-minded view of the world -- we learn that this gunman has a temperament not unsuited to his grim work, but also harbors tender feelings for his less-than-impressive pony, Tub, worries about his expanding belly, and enjoys a thorough tooth-brushing.

    My only real complaint is that, at times, I found the author???s insistence on having his characters speak with precise, formal-sounding diction to be odd to the point of the distraction. It also makes some of the side characters seem similar. Did rough people on the frontier in the 1850s really talk like that? Still, even if this novel might be heavier on style than realism, it???s so witty and well-written, I didn???t mind.

    I mean, how can you not appreciate a line like this (thought by Eli as he checks in on his injured brother): ???Charlie was asleep on his back, with his eyes wide open, and a full erection pressing against the front of his pants, which, despite my not wanting to know about the thing, I took as a sign of wellness. I thought, 'who knows in what extraordinary form good tidings might arrive'.???

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sarah 09-26-11
    Sarah 09-26-11

    I'm a 60 yr old former English major and grad student. It's been fascinating revisiting the books I studied in my 20s, read aloud to me.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "More tales of the wild west"

    I wanted to read this book after seeing the movie and reading and listening to True Grit this summer, and I was not disappointed. No, it's nowhere near as well written and engaging a tale as True Grit, but the characters' dialogue was similar (kind of high-falutin' elegant English for two criminal cowpokes to be using) and the adventures were entertaining. The narrator was excellent. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. If you're in a Western movie mood, like I've been, you'll enjoy it too. Next up for me: the movie Meek's Cutoff.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Leslie Slevin Oro Valley, AZ United States 07-22-12
    Leslie Slevin Oro Valley, AZ United States 07-22-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The Cruelty To Animals is Hard to Take"

    Great narrator, I would say perfect for this story. The prose is enchanting, that's why I stuck with it. The Sister Brothers have no regard for human life, so it is hard to like them. The treatment of animals in the story is abhorrent. I realize this may have been realistic for the period, but if that bothers you (and it should,) you may want to avoid this book. The dialogue is glorious, and for that reason I recommend it.

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Judy 02-25-13
    Judy 02-25-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Loved it! Good choice for a book club read."

    This was a selection by my book club. It's a quirky, dark book and I absolutely loved it. I found it to be rather funny and quite entertaining. The narrator was perfect.

    It's not a tremendously deep book but everyone in the group had some questions and there were some conflicting responses which lead to some good discussion. One of our members found an interview with the author which answered some of the questions we had about the book.

    This is not your typical book club book but I thought it was a good choice and I enjoyed it as did the rest of the members of my group.

    Give it a try.







    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    suzanne 03-15-12
    suzanne 03-15-12
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    "First Audible selection"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    Became an Audible member as I was traveling and having trouble keeping up with book club! This method makes travel sooo much better.


    What could Patrick deWitt have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Well, I was a little let down by the conclusion. Was he trrying to make some sort of a deep philosophical life lesson point? If so, I think I missed it......


    Did John Pruden do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

    Yes. Very well read.


    Was The Sisters Brothers worth the listening time?

    Yes, it kept the long wait times bearable.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Waltham, MA, United States 07-29-11
    Mark Waltham, MA, United States 07-29-11 Member Since 2010

    MTF

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good dialogue but falls short otherwise"

    This novel feels like a series of vignettes involving the Sisters brothers, two hired killers. The dialogue is amusing, and kept my interest, and I enjoyed many of the short scenes. But this novel does not make the location come alive as I had hoped, and the plot is thin. I smiled a lot but was not terribly engaged otherwise. The reader was good, though.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    RueRue 02-06-14
    RueRue 02-06-14

    RueRue

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Character-driven Western"
    Would you listen to The Sisters Brothers again? Why?

    I rarely re-listen to books, but this one deserves it. Great narration by John Pruden ! He captured the characters with his voice and intonation perfectly.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The narrator, Eli, is of course the best.


    Have you listened to any of John Pruden’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I haven't listened to him previously, but based on this, I am looking for more books narrated by him.


    Any additional comments?

    This is reminiscent of a Joe R. Lansdale story, similar flawed but sympathetic characters and a dry humor that I found appealing. Loved it !

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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