Rebecca's Reviews > The Sisters Brothers

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
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really liked it
bookshelves: booker-shortlisted, historical-fiction, laugh-out-loud, best-of-2011

Somewhere between Tarantino and True Grit came this distinctly non-Bookerish contender for the 2011 Booker Prize. Simply put, it’s a violent, comic Western, but with so many postmodern twists that it’s tempting to call it an anti-Western. Critics have dubbed it a “cowboy noir” but I think that’s misleading as it does not hint at the humor that sets this book apart.

Eli and Charlie Sisters, a pair of assassins working a beat in Oregon and California for the mysterious Commodore, speak in a delightfully deadpan style, and veer between pathetic blundering and brutality. Eli, the narrator, is the younger and more sensitive brother, but even he has a violent temper. His compassion tends to be directed towards his horses – who die in particularly pitiable ways – rather than his human victims.

The humor of the novel lies in the ridiculousness of the situations: here is a cowboy so fat he decides he must go on a diet to win a lady friend; here is a cowboy who has become a fanatical devotee of teeth brushing; here is a boy who has a face that invites being hit on the head; here is a bald prospector with a red beard and potbelly who carries mathematics textbooks around to saloons with him. (The reductio ad absurdum reminds me of a spoof I once wrote for my high school literary magazine, featuring a Wild West detective named M. I. Dummerwutt.)

It was rather pleasing to see such a different kind of novel make it onto the Booker shortlist: instead of the usual self-important, po-faced fare, this is riotous silliness at its best. Did it deserve a place next to Julian Barnes’s latest? Probably not. But it was darn good fun.
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Reading Progress

October 7, 2011 – Started Reading
October 7, 2011 – Shelved
October 7, 2011 –
page 59
October 8, 2011 –
page 145
October 10, 2011 – Finished Reading
October 1, 2013 – Shelved as: booker-shortlisted
October 1, 2013 – Shelved as: laugh-out-loud
October 1, 2013 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
October 3, 2013 – Shelved as: best-of-2011

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message 1: by Joanne (new)

Joanne This is on my TBR shelf, I'm looking forward to reading it.

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