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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.

Topics: Crime and Funny

Published: HarperCollins on
ISBN: 9780062041272
List price: $10.99
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I really wish I had written this review while the book was still fresh in my mind. I actually listened to it on Audible; it was a wonderful experience.I've not read very many of what I'd call "Westerns" but this is one, albeit a very different sort of Western. Set during the California Gold Rush, it is the tale of Charley and Eli Sisters, two brothers who work as hired guns for a Godfather-like character in Oregon City. Sent to California to track down and kill a certain man, they are somewhat caught up in the gold fever themselves. One of the key episodes verges on science fiction; there is also plenty of humor in the book. For much of the story, Charley and Eli engage in almost thoughtless violence, so be forewarned and don't read it if you can't bear that sort of thing. But this was one of the best and most memorable books I read in 2012 and I would recommend it most highly.more
Deadpan funny, with an unusual first person narrator and narrative voice. Fun, very different from what you might expect from a "western", although you do encounter candidly gory violence, but even this is a quite a feat by the author, that we still retain some sympathy for the narrator. Easy to keep going, though ultimately not a book that'll leave you with much (except the question about WTF excatly is that chemical reaction with the acid and the "gold" near the end?)more
An entertaining Wild West story with two unusual -- but colourful -- protagonists.more
Eli Sisters, our narrator, is an overweight hired killer in the Old West of 1851. But he's looking for more life satisfaction than the cards he's been dealt afford him. His brother and partner in crime, Charlie, is more in tune with their lives' shared vocation. Charlie has an ambition for the power wielded by the crime boss they work for. But Charlie has a drinking problem.The boys set out from Oregon City as the behest of their boss, the Commodore, to eliminate a prospector who has the unlikely name of Hermann Kermit Warm. After several stops along their picaresque journey, they meet their ultimate destiny in Warm.The novel is touching and funny. Touching in the way our expectations are upset by unexpectedly emotional and poignant turnarounds. Funny in the manner of "Don Quixote"'s violent and sometimes deadly slapstick. There are some powerful scenes of wistful longing and human connection. Eli Sisters is one of the most unexpectedly sympathetic narrators to come out of fiction in a long time.more
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Reviews

I really wish I had written this review while the book was still fresh in my mind. I actually listened to it on Audible; it was a wonderful experience.I've not read very many of what I'd call "Westerns" but this is one, albeit a very different sort of Western. Set during the California Gold Rush, it is the tale of Charley and Eli Sisters, two brothers who work as hired guns for a Godfather-like character in Oregon City. Sent to California to track down and kill a certain man, they are somewhat caught up in the gold fever themselves. One of the key episodes verges on science fiction; there is also plenty of humor in the book. For much of the story, Charley and Eli engage in almost thoughtless violence, so be forewarned and don't read it if you can't bear that sort of thing. But this was one of the best and most memorable books I read in 2012 and I would recommend it most highly.more
Deadpan funny, with an unusual first person narrator and narrative voice. Fun, very different from what you might expect from a "western", although you do encounter candidly gory violence, but even this is a quite a feat by the author, that we still retain some sympathy for the narrator. Easy to keep going, though ultimately not a book that'll leave you with much (except the question about WTF excatly is that chemical reaction with the acid and the "gold" near the end?)more
An entertaining Wild West story with two unusual -- but colourful -- protagonists.more
Eli Sisters, our narrator, is an overweight hired killer in the Old West of 1851. But he's looking for more life satisfaction than the cards he's been dealt afford him. His brother and partner in crime, Charlie, is more in tune with their lives' shared vocation. Charlie has an ambition for the power wielded by the crime boss they work for. But Charlie has a drinking problem.The boys set out from Oregon City as the behest of their boss, the Commodore, to eliminate a prospector who has the unlikely name of Hermann Kermit Warm. After several stops along their picaresque journey, they meet their ultimate destiny in Warm.The novel is touching and funny. Touching in the way our expectations are upset by unexpectedly emotional and poignant turnarounds. Funny in the manner of "Don Quixote"'s violent and sometimes deadly slapstick. There are some powerful scenes of wistful longing and human connection. Eli Sisters is one of the most unexpectedly sympathetic narrators to come out of fiction in a long time.more
I found this title through a review and an unlikely choice for me but I found myself drawn to the story and unable to put it down. Seriously why would you want to read about 2 brothers, hired killers, and there journey to a job for the Commodore during the days of the California Gold Rush? Because it is so well done with the characters, plot, humor and cover art.more
I was bored by the characters, story, and language, until page 150, when it started to get a little better. I finished it only because it was part of a reading challenge.

I never experienced these things with this book:
- interesting turns of phrase/love of language, metaphor, larger meaning, etc.
- complex characters doing interesting things
- the compelling "dream" of fiction -- the words were just words on a page, they only began to conjure up that dream of a fictional world after page 150, which seemed entirely too long to wait.

When I finished it, I wondered why I had read it. I didn't feel moved by having read it and gone on the fictional journey with this protagonist.

It made me realize how much I admire The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon by Tom Spanbauer, which is also a genre-bending "Western" of sorts. In that book, the writer takes serious risks and while the result is sometimes uneven, it's still a very good and engaging character and story.more
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