Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Book #79 The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt

The Sisters Brothers

Yesterday, The Sisters Brothers became one of the six books to make it off the Booker longlist and onto the shortlist alongside Half Blood Blues, Jamrach's Menagerie, A Sense Of An Ending, Pigeon English and Snowdrops.

The book tells the story of Charlie and Eli Sisters, a pair of infamous brothers from Oregon who are dispatched by their boss the Commodore on a mission. The mission? To kill Hermann Kermit Warm.
From the very opening you realise that the Sisters Brothers are not ordinary guys. Eli narrates the novel, and at its opening calmly recounts how his last horse burnt to death screaming. Both men historically and during the time period the novel takes place over have a very cavalier attitude towards death, either in being the bringer of death, as they so often are or in its occurrence in their world.

Charlie Sisters very much relishes the notoriety he shares with his brother, yet Eli whose course has largely been set as a consequence of loyalty to his brother dreams of running a general store with a woman who is kind to him. There is a resounding pathos in the novel for Eli and his situation.

The novel has the kind of qualities that would make it suitable for film adaptation but I do not think that this will happen in the immediate future. My main struggle with the novel was with the proximity in which I read it to Cormac McCarthy's All The Pretty Horses. There are far too many similarities between the novels. Two men set out on horses on a journey for work and are beset by obstacles of both the practical and criminal kind, at one point a young boy attempts to tag along with them but is left behind. I could not find the originality of which it has been hailed anywhere in the plot, though I'll make allowances for Eli as a character.

The nod towards the beginnings of the Gold Rush is a nice touch, but I simply hated the end which was a cutesy resolution not in keeping with the dark tone or characters. I would not read it a second time and had it been a paper copy and not an e book I would be donating it to charity. Overall, I do not think DeWitt deserves to win the Booker Prize to be announced next month because of the novels overt similarity to the work of McCarthy. 7/10

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