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THE SISTERS BROTHERS By Patrick deWitt June 22, 2011

Posted by lycan librarian in book reviews, Books and reading.

This unusual Western is a short and quick read, but not at all typical of the genre. It begins in 1851, is about outlaw brothers and told in the voice of Eli, the fat Sisters brother. Charlie Sisters is the mean one; but like the characters in many Westerns, both of these notorious brothers exhibit quite a bit of stupidly senseless cruelty. Eli is, indeed, kinder than Charlie and he seems to try to do what is right, but they are both in the business of getting ahead how and when they can, so must neatly and immediately eliminate whoever gets in their way. Eli shies away from drinking and is a sucker for whores, and women in general, but not in procuring their favors; rather in trying to find a glimmer of true affection wafting from them and aiming at him. The reader admires his kindness for his old horse, Tub, until near the end, where he suddenly becomes uncharacteristically tight-fisted with his money and the poor horse suffers greatly as a result.

I liked the book and recommend it highly. I think I like Eli, too, and even Charlie at times. I suppose not being fully able to decide proves that deWitt did a great job of bringing his characters to life. I’m uncertain why a couple of the minor characters in this piece exist, and was sorry not to see more of the old witch who appeared near the beginning. The ending is satisfying and hopeful, but to remain optimistic, it’s probably best to simply smile and close the book, and not try to think too far into the Sisters brothers’ futures beyond that exact time. But I am definitely thinking ahead toward another point in the future — the happy day when deWitt’s next book comes out.



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