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The Sisters Brothers [Paperback]

Patrick deWitt
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (315 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 May 2011
Oregon, 1851. Eli and Charlie Sisters, notorious professional killers, are on their way to California to kill a man named Hermann Kermit Warm. On the way, the brothers have a series of unsettling and violent experiences in the Darwinian landscape of Gold Rush America. Charlie makes money and kills anyone who stands in his way; Eli doubts his vocation and falls in love. And they bicker a lot. Then they get to California, and discover that Warm is an inventor who has come up with a magical formula, which could make all of them very rich. What happens next is utterly gripping, strange and sad. Told in deWitt's darkly comic and arresting style, THE SISTERS BROTHERS is the kind of Western the Coen Brothers might write - stark, unsettling and with a keen eye for the perversity of human motivation. Like his debut novel ABLUTIONS, THE SISTERS BROTHERS is a novel about the things you tell yourself in order to be able to continue to live the life you find yourself in, and what happens when those stories no longer work. It is an inventive and strange and beautifully controlled piece of fiction, which shows an exciting expansion of Dewitt's range

Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books (5 May 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847083188
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847083180
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 13.3 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (315 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 90,453 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Triumphantly dark ... The writing is superb ... deWitt has ensured another unforgettable pair their place in fictive lore' --Sunday Telegraph

'A blackly comic witty noir version of Don Quixote. DeWitt's story is hugely entertaining' --Financial Times

'Often blackly hilarious' --The Times

'An unsettling, compelling and deeply strange picaresque novel ... it has much to say about the business of being human' --Independent on Sunday

'A stunningly accomplished book. With this novel, deWitt proves that he is well on the way to greatness' --Dazed & Confused

'The Sisters Brothers confirms DeWitt as one of the most talented young writers around' --Sunday Times

'A powerfully realized work of narrative fiction ... the dialogue is sharp as a whip' --Times Literary Supplement

`A boldly eloquent adventure story full of sweat and casual violence about a man trying to live a better life' --Metro

'Bursting with vitality and driven along by a terrific pulpy energy' --The Herald

'DeWitt never misses a beat in what is a masterclass on the twists of the mind and heart'

About the Author

Patrick deWitt's Ablutions was a huge critical success. He lives with his wife and son in Portland, Oregon in the USA.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
77 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fabulous Read 7 Aug 2011
I first heard about The Sisters Brothers when it recently made it onto the Man Booker Longlist - perversely enough, it was all the mutterings about it not being a suitable nominee plus some irresistible cover lust which made me even keener to read it.

Firstly, a word of warning...this is not a pretty novel, it's set back in the 1850s during the California Gold Rush when men were men and horses didn't have whisperers. There are scenes of cruelty, to both animals and humans, so best to move on if this would detract from your reading enjoyment.

It is 1851, the Californian Gold Rush is in full swing and our narrator, Eli Sisters, hired killer, is accompanying his older brother Charlie on an eventful journey from Oregon to Sacramento, to track down and kill one Hermann Kermit Warm. Their quest has an epic feel to it as they encounter a range of wild and wonderful characters en route, think Don Quixote meets the Coen and Blues Brothers with a dash of Cormac Mc Carthy thrown in for good measure. Yet, it doesn't seem derivative and ends up being a really fresh, original piece of work - defying categorisation.

Eli is a psychopath with a (slight) conscience and therein lies the conflict between the brothers. Even as he relates their latest killing in his usual deadpan tone, you know his heart is no longer in it and he longs for a different life, even suggesting opening a store - Charlie is not particularly open to the idea... Their story is compelling but unsettling, dark but humorous and so cinematic, you can just visualise their adventures rolling onto the big screen.

A very special novel which will entertain a wide range of readers including those biblio-butterflies who like a change of genre every now and then.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent, readable book 18 May 2012
By John Tierney VINE VOICE
Format:Kindle Edition
This is a wonderful book, even straight from the title (Eli and Charlie have the surname "Sisters" and are brothers). Eli is our narrator and he has an unusual, quirky voice. Set in 1851 Gold Rush West Coast America, the brothers are guns for hire and on a mission to travel from Oregon to San Francisco to assasinate someone who has offended their employer, the all-powerful Commodore, who - it seems- doesn't like Eli anyway.

We follow the brothers as they travel and meet people along the way and in towns. Charlie is fearless and brutal, whilst Eli seems more thoughtful and wants to change his life. His voice is clear and funny and the book is a real page turner. The brothers have multiple encounters along the way, some violent, until they reach San Francisco and must then track down the mysterious Hermann Kermit Warm. What they do to try and find him and the consequence of this lead to the denouement of the book, which I won't spoil.

This book is extremely well written, funny, intelligent, thought-provoking, philsophical and also what seemed to me to be a faithful recreation of the gold rush atmosphere. I felt as though the dialogue was authentic and there are nice turns of phrase. I could picture scene after scene and I think this reflects well on the author's skills.

If you are not sure about whether to buy this book, I urge you to do so as I don't think you'll be disappointed.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not laugh out loud, but... 8 Mar 2012
By Steed
Format:Kindle Edition
I was sold on this book being a dark comedy and although it is a wonderfully entertaining read (no doubt about that), the comedy aspect did not have me laughing out loud like the fabulous dark comedies of Tom Sharpe's Wilt or Tony Royden's The Dealer. So if it's belly laughs you are after, maybe best you look elsewhere.

The Sisters Brothers is written in such a way that every chapter is a tale within itself and so I found the book was easily put-downable (suitable to my lifestyle), but each chapter was enjoyable and was all relevant to the overall story. I really liked the that it was set in the in the background of the wild west (something new to the books I have been reading). Charlie and Eli Sisters are likeable rogues and I enjoyed narrative between them. I agree with other reviewers that The Sisters Brothers does have a Coen Brothers film feel to it.

If you like the occasional western with a deadpan since of humour, then this book is well worth considering.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Fistful of Nothing? 24 Feb 2012
It can be hard reading (and then reviewing) a highly acclaimed book, particularly if you find your own opinion of it contrary to everybody else's. I had wanted to read 'The Sisters Brothers' since before it was longlisted for the Booker prize; its subsequent acclaim had me anticipating something special. Whilst in no way a bad book, I found 'TSB' to be a pedestrian tale. A tale well told, but one that failed to deliver on its promise.

The novel is narrated by Eli Sisters, one half of the notorious Sisters Brothers, murderous enforcers for an unseen crime baron called 'The Commodore'. Eli and Charlie are travelling to California, to track down Herman Warm. Warm has irritated their employer, and Eli and Charlie have been dispatched to ensure he doesn't do it again.

The period and setting are well constructed. deWitt conveys the openness of the wild west well, but what really stands out is the sense of lawlessness. Unlike most depictions of the Gold Rush era deWitt's contains no glamour; it is survival of the fittest. The strongest takes what it wants from the weak, and the weak die. The motto of almost everybody in the book is 'Get rich or die tryin'.

The novel's characters, particularly Eli, are well drawn. Charlie is a ruthless killer, Eli is on the surface a brute; violent and quick to anger, but he has another side. Eli is a dangerous man, but he is also a thinker, and he does not like what he has become. The novel explores his inner turmoil as he tries to transcend his circumstances and lead a better life. Although the style, settings and characters are entirely different, I found 'TSB' curiously reminiscent of 'Great Expectations'.

The story essentially follows Eli's pitiful attempts to change.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Surearl Journey across America
Have really enjoyed this book. When I saw the names of the characters, I just wanted to read it. Glad I did. Reminds me of the BeatNik era. A sureal reading experience. Read more
Published 6 days ago by Wanna be author
5.0 out of 5 stars A highly addictive narrative
This isn't the sort of book I would ordinarily pick for myself or expect to enjoy, but it was chosen by my book club and I could not put it down. Read more
Published 13 days ago by Dr. Babus Ahmed
3.0 out of 5 stars Blood brothers till the end
The book was an interesting read although not my usual kind of read so some parts I found really interesting and other parts a bit slow but I defiantly liked the ending. Read more
Published 16 days ago by N
5.0 out of 5 stars Bloody. Brilliant.
Beautifully structured, wonderful story telling, great writing. As good as it gets. This will be made into a film soon I'm sure.
Published 29 days ago by debosco
1.0 out of 5 stars Not for me
I loathed this book from the first page. I just didn't get it. So many people have raved about it and told me they loved it, hence my purchase. Read more
Published 1 month ago by loveagoodbook13
3.0 out of 5 stars unusual
Unexpected twists, very like real life if one takes chances and follows whims. I liked Ablutions more, but this was an interesting read.
Published 1 month ago by Myawoman
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Western
The book was delivered promptly, was brand new and shrink wrapped.
Terrific story - a strange mix of savage yet funny. I loved it.
Published 1 month ago by Grace
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it.
A fast paced story, can't put it down book. Funny, with good characters that develop interestingly as the story unfolds. Read it.
Published 1 month ago by Jake
3.0 out of 5 stars Western
Set in the time of the Californian gold rush. There were some quite gruesome bits in this book. Didn't like it - not my type of book. Only it read it for my book club.
Published 1 month ago by Mrs P D
4.0 out of 5 stars really enjoyed
Surprisingly I really enjoyed this book. Loved the writing style and the slightly dark bizarre humour. Would definitely recommend this.
Published 1 month ago by Caro
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