The Sisters Brothers

By Patrick deWitt

Place: Publisher & Year: New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2011

Genres: Western, historical fiction, cowboy noir

ISBN: 9780062041265

Audience: Adult

Number of pages: 328

Setting: Oregon City, Oregon Territory, & California (including San Francisco)

Time period: 1851

Plot summary: Charlie and Eli sisters are known throughout the Oregon Territory and California as killers who work for the Commodore.   What begins as an ordinary assignment for them – to go to San Francisco and kill a man – becomes a life changing journey for both of the brothers.

Appeal factors:

Pacing: Short chapters and terse writing combine to make this story moderately brisk.  And while there is plenty of action, there are also many bizarre scenarios which offer pause for reflection.

Characterization: The story is told in first person by Eli.  Charlie is the most important secondary character. While there are a slew of interesting characters found in this story, Eli’s horse, Tub, plays a significant role.

Frame: From the first paragraph and throughout its entirety  the story is framed by violence (and horses).

Story line: A bizarre western that reads like a Coen Brothers movie.

Subject headings:

From Pima County Public Library:

Brothers — Fiction.

Gold miners — Fiction.

Frontier and pioneer life — West (U.S.) — Fiction.

Western stories.

Humorous stories.

Possibly similar works:

Welcome to Hard Times by E.L. Doctorow

All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy

True Grit by Charles Portis

Personal notes:  This was a great book.  And I would love to see the Coen Brothers make a movie from it.  I really enjoyed reading Eli’s perspective on life.

Other: Diversity – hired killers, prostitutes, Native Americans, alcoholics

Patrick deWitt’s website

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