Charlie and Eli Sisters are brothers, assassins for hire and on the way to California to kill prospector Hermann Kermit Warm. Eli, our narrator, wants this to be his last job and dreams of settling down, opening a trading post, and if he can lose a little weight, maybe even falling in love.
The Sisters Brothers is a Western novel, and yet then again, it isn’t. It has all the classic ingredients of a Western, most notably the odyssey, the divey-taverns, the prostitutes and the old-timey language, but it has more. At times humourous, at times poetic, and brutal throughout. It is a novel of contradictions. The brothers are remarkably different and don’t seem to like each other much, yet have an intense and loyal bond to one another. Horses die in fires and have injured eyes gouged out with spoons – yet are loved and treated tenderly. It’s written as historical fiction, yet without feeling any need for historical (or scientific) accuracy.
Their journey from Oregon City to California as narrated by Eli is frequently out of chronological order, and interspersed with his philosophical musings and longings for a simpler life – but it works. The Sisters Brothers was a highly enjoyable read: shocking, amusing and thoughtful. Strongly recommended.
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Ecco; Reprint edition (April 26, 2011)
* Short listed for the 2011 Giller Prize.