Thursday, October 22, 2015

'The Sisters Brothers' by Patrick deWitt

22 October 2015

The best novels are paradoxically completely original while also drawing on a variety of sources and influences. Canadian author Patrick deWitt's wonderful 2011 novel 'The Sisters Brothers' pulls off this trick brilliantly. 'The Sisters Brothers' is a western, set in the 1850s California Gold Rush. I've just finished reading it as an unabridged audio book, narrated by William Hope. It is a darkly comic, picaresque adventure. Brothers Charlie and Eli Sisters are professional assassins travelling on horseback from Oregon City to San Francisco to take out their latest victim. The book feels like a combination of 'Don Quixote' (reviewed here in January 2012), 'Waiting for Godot (reviewed here in May 2009), 'The Luminaries' (reviewed here in December 2013) and the Coen Brothers film 'O Brother, Where Art Thou' (or pretty much any other Coen Brothers film). Eli narrates the story in a dry, laconic style, perfectly captured by William Hope in the audio version. It's a bleak and brutal tale, containing much violence (to men and to horses) but Eli's weary, matter-of-fact approach to his murderous work is very funny and the writing is excellent.



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