The Sisters Brothers, by Patrick deWitt

I was expecting a good old fashioned western when I picked this up, but luckily, I got so much more. The novel is written from the first person perspective of Eli Sisters, the younger half of a renowned murderous duo working in the Oregon Territory for a ruthless man called the Commodore. Charlie, the elder, is most fitted for his work: he enjoys being in control, and while he always gives his victim a chance to bargain, does not shirk from his deadly duty. Eli, on the other hand, has a definite soft streak. He likes animals and women, tries to help the helpless, and spends a good amount of his time fantasizing about finding love and settling down. But he also has a temper, one which his brother has learned how to harness, and does his own fair share of killing.

I was most of the way through the book when I realized that the writing reminds me a bit of Ivan Doig. Doig's books are also basically westerns in plot, but so much more when it comes to the language. DeWitt is less verbose and lyrical than Doig, choosing instead a sparser tone to emulate Eli's mind, but still every page yields a kind of poetry. I was thoroughly impressed with this novel and look forward to reading more of deWitt's work.


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