The Sisters Brothers is a book I read for my Walter Scott Prize project, but it also turns out to qualify for my Man Booker Prize project. It is a peculiar novel indeed. It is blurbed as hilarious. I did not find it so. Satirical, maybe; dark, yes; picaresque, definitely.
It is 1851, and the Sisters brothers are on their way from Oregon City to California to kill a man named Hermann Kermit Warm. They are hired killers who work for a man known as the Commodore. Charlie is the Commodore’s man, but Eli is tired of the life and wants to own a store.
This is definitely a road trip novel, and on the road, Eli and Charlie encounter many odd people. Most of them they deal with brutally. Eli and Charlie are themselves almost self-parodies, as is their mode of speech.
Although there is an underlying plot, the novel is a series of episodes, where the brothers encounter one situation after another and get out of them more or less fantastically. There is a bit of dark humor in the dialogue, but unlike some other reviewers, I did not find the novel funny. I was interested in Eli’s mental journey, but after he and Charlie blew away a bunch of people, not so much.