Let me start this little review, by listing some of my favourite books (there’s only one) and movies that (sort of) fall into the always exciting, Western genre.
- True Grit by Charles Portis
- The Outlaw Josey Wales starring Clint Eastwood
- Back to the Future III
- True Grit starring Jeff Bridges and
- Blazing Saddles
I remember when I was little I loved watching old Clint as Josey Wales taking out the bad guys and I think it was this particular movie that has made me love this genre ever since. There are plenty more that don’t spring to mind at the minute (most of them starring Clint), but the ones mentioned are the ones that I will always read or watch and not get sick of. So I was excited to read The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt, in the hopes that I might have another something to add to my list.
As I was reading, it reminded me a lot of True Grit, though perhaps a little more…rough around the edges. The two main characters are the brothers, Charlie and Eli Sisters (hence the title), two hit men working for someone named The Commodore. The book is a narrative from Eli – the younger of the two brothers and by far the least morally corrupt. We follow them on the job as they make their way from Oregon to California, just as the country is being gripped by gold fever.
I’ll be blunt – I didn’t like Charlie. I suspect that this is how I was meant to feel towards him, so thumbs up to deWitt for getting me to feel this. I found Charlie to be a completely unlikeable human being. He had little to no regard for his brother and even less again for animals and the rest of society. He seems to have had quite a hard life, but rather than making the best of things, he lives his life with a permanent chip on his shoulder.
Eli on the other hand, I found to be quite endearing. In the grand scheme of things, he was just a guy that followed the big brother he idolised, into a bad line of work. He seemed to get attached to someone everywhere they stopped, I think wanting to feel some kind of connection with someone other than his brother. But when you’re in the killing line of work, the only people you can make a real connection with, are the ones whose lives you are about to end. As a side note, I imagined Eli looking somewhat like Matt Damon.
I probably didn’t enjoy it as much as True Grit, mostly due to being rather more gruesome in parts, but it was still a good read and nice quick one at that. I will need to read this a couple more times before it makes my list of Western things I love, but I think the deWitt is a great storyteller and I will certainly look for more of his work – once I get through my mountain of other books that is.
RATING – 7 out of 10.
WHO SHOULD READ IT – if you liked True Grit, you’ll like this. But definitely give it a go if you just appreciate a good story.
WHO YOU’LL LOVE – I’m a sucker for a slightly neglected animal. So the honour of my favourite character goes to Tub, Eli’s horse for the majority of the book.