Day 910: The Sisters Brothers

Cover for The Sisters BrothersThe 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.

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12 thoughts on “Day 910: The Sisters Brothers

  1. Helen May 31, 2016 / 2:30 pm

    I read this book a few years ago and remember enjoying it a lot more than I expected to. I agree that it’s not a hilarious book, though – I did find some of the dialogue funny, but dark, satirical and picaresque are better descriptions.

    • whatmeread May 31, 2016 / 2:32 pm

      I think I may not have been in the right mood for it. I think it’s odd that it made it onto two award lists, but maybe that just means it has a good publicist.

  2. Naomi June 1, 2016 / 7:35 am

    I liked this book, but I didn’t find it hilarious either. I think I might have benefited from reading it before it was too blown up. I remember feeling bad for Eli a lot of the time.

  3. whatmeread June 1, 2016 / 7:37 am

    Yes, I think I have a reaction to too much hype. I did feel bad for Eli.

  4. Carolyn O June 1, 2016 / 3:03 pm

    I love the title, and I love Westerns, but this doesn’t sound like my cup of tea. Great review though (and I think this happened once before with my blog, but just so you know I haven’t been getting email notifications from yours for about a week for some reason. I might try re-subscribing.).

    • whatmeread June 1, 2016 / 3:15 pm

      Oh, dear. I have the same problem on and off with yours and Naomi’s blogs. I never know if you haven’t been posting or if my email server just decided not to allow it.

      • Carolyn O June 1, 2016 / 3:17 pm

        I re-subscribed, but I’ll check in every day or two to make sure it worked.

      • whatmeread June 1, 2016 / 3:18 pm

        I’ve been trying to remember to do that with yours. Most days I get it just fine, and then it quits for a few days, and then it starts again.

      • Carolyn O June 1, 2016 / 3:20 pm

        Huh. Weird.

      • whatmeread June 1, 2016 / 3:23 pm

        I have occasionally had to resubscribe.

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