Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

After The Virgin Cure by Ami McKay, I needed to read something a little lighter in subject matter and stumbled across The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt.  It is the story of two brothers, Charlie and Eli Sisters, who are hired guns for a mysterious man called The Commodore. As such, they are given the task of hunting down a man named Herman Kermit Warm, who allegedly stole something from The Commodore.  In order to find this man, they are to rendezvous with an associate named Mr. Morris in San Francisco. 

Without giving away the action or revealing the plot, let's just say that things do not go as planned and the two brothers run into unforeseen obstacles. There also exists tension between Eli and Charlie, as Charlie is motivated to pursue more work for The Commodore and harbours ambitions of one day becoming a boss himself.  Eli, however, sees the work as a means to an end, and would like nothing more than to settle down and become a shopkeeper.  The brothers' story is told in the same framework as epic tales like The Odyssey and also has a bit of a Quentin Tarantino quality to it, with its unapologetic violence and dark sense of humour. There are many comic moments scattered throughout the story and they make light of what could be very dramatic showdowns.  DeWitt also refrains from adding a lot of unnecessary historical details which take the focus away from the story, and are ultimately forgotten by the reader.

I think that there are so many works of fiction which are focused on dark subject matter that it is refreshing to find a well-written book that features humour so prominently. Sometimes I believe that authors run out of creative ways to tell a story and instead wish to engage their audience by writing plots of unrelenting tragedy.  The Sisters Brothers shows how a well-crafted comedic novel can garner critical acclaim while providing a unique reading experience.      

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