On the flight out to Colorado, I read one of the most talked about books of 2011: The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt. I do understand the hype surrounding this book because it is so well written, and it is not your typical Western.
Eli and Charlie Sisters are hit men based out of the Pacific Northwest (Oregon, to be exact) at the peak of the Gold Rush. They have been ordered to kill Hermann Kermit Warm, a prospector who supposedly stole something from their boss, the Commodore. His last known whereabouts is his claim near Sacramento, and as the notorious and infamous Sisters Brothers set out on their mission, Eli is on his new horse named Tub. I must say that Tub is one of the most interesting characters in the book. I love Tub! Eli's interactions with Tub reveal much about his heart, and his heart is not into this particular job. Eli is one of the most endearing characters in spite of his chosen profession, and I enjoyed the story as it was told through his point of view. Eli is a bit overweight, and he does not share his brother's love for violence and brandy. He is having a bit of a midlife crisis: he is questioning his life and how he wants to spend the remainder of it. He has also made a commitment to weight loss and dental hygiene with his new toothbrush and mint flavored tooth powder.
Some of the most humorous moments in the book is their pitstop in San Francisco where the brothers are meant to rendezvous with one of the Commodore's scouts named Morris. San Francisco is booming, and prospectors are spending their gold as quickly as they can on food, lodgings, whiskey, and women. The spending has inflated prices to ridiculous heights, and everyone is wild there. Here is one of my favorite quotes from the book. It is said by a man whom Eli and Charlie have just met as they are seeing San Francisco Bay for the first time. Eli asks him what his feelings are about San Francisco this morning:
He shook his head. "Yesterday I saw a man leap from the roof of the Orient Hotel, laughing all the way to the ground, upon which he fairly exploded. He was drunk they say, but I had seen him sober shortly before this. There is a feeling here, which if it gets you, will envenom your very center. It is a madness of possibilities. That leaping man's final act was the embodiment of the collective mind of San Francisco. I understood it completely. I had a strong desire to applaud, if you want to know the truth.'
There are so many intriguing and unique characters in the book, and one of my favorites makes appearances in the book's two intermissions. She is a little girl with "the sight" and a penchant for poison. I wish there had been a third because I would like to learn more of this morbid Wednesday Addams of the Old West! The story, characters, point of view, and dark humor are certainly pluses in The Sisters Brothers, but there is definitely a negative: animal cruelty. I want to forewarn you about it before you read it. The violence did not bother me as badly because I expect violence in a Western.
Sorry about the brevity of this post, but my family is getting a bit anxious to leave Starbucks. Tomorrow I will post my Best Books of 2011 Lists. Hopefully it will be easy because I wrote them before leaving home. In the meantime, please enjoy this cheesy The Sisters Brothers book trailer.
Until next time...