20 June 2011

Post 394: The Sisters Brothers

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt. ISBN: 9780062041265.

I was wrong in my general update when I said this was a mystery. What I meant was, this is some kind of weird noir-ish Western with vague hints of film serials. But for me, this is part of the fun of writing the general update. I get to see exactly what I thought I was getting myself into before I started a book and see how accurately I judged the book while knowing little to nothing about it (or everything with the more hyped or classic books).

Anyway, I liked this book, despite the fact that there were things I very much did not like about it. That sounds more contradictory than it is. Let me explain. There was a lot of mindless violence, there was a lot of machismo and treating women like objects, there was a lot of drinking and drug use, and there was very little to keep my interest in the way of plot... except... Except there's Eli Sisters.

He starts of being kind of strange, not the kind of outlaw gunman you would expect. In fact, when I started reading it my first thought was, "Autistic cowboy, what?" Eli very much displayed some of the same behaviors as my mostly autistic in-laws-to-be. But the further I read into the story the more I realized he was the more sane of the two Sisters Brothers and the more thoughtful. Rather than the mindless killing I had assumed was taking place, it was instead very calculated on Charlie's part and more reactive on Eli's. Watching Eli gain a certain amount of self-awareness regarding his professional and moral decisions was fascinating. I have rarely seen a more aware character in such a violent novel, and it was a nice change of pace.

Too frequently I think we are treated only to the reactionary nature of characters thrown into violent situations, whether through their own doing or not. It was wonderful to see Eli step back from the situation and realize why he was involved with the Commodore, why he kept falling in love with women he barely knew, and how that affected him.

Do you know of any other self-aware characters like this? I'd be interested in reading more or at least exploring some titles.

While I don't think I liked it quite as much as Mike from Goodreads, I did really like his review. Kirkus gave this novel a limp handshake, and while on some level I can understand why, dude, that's harsh.
LibsNote: Received from publisher for participating in #fridayreads. For those of you who say nothing good comes from being on Twitter, HAH!

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