I have just finished Man Booker nominated The Sisters Brothers by Canadian Patrick deWitt and I have to say, it is a great journey of a read from start to finish. Set in 1851 as the gold rush swept the American frontier this is a classic Western which follows the fate of two brothers, Charlie and Eli Sisters, on the trail of an elusive prospector.
What really makes an impact is how dexterously deWitt gets under the skin of these two characters. Sure there’s violence, it’s a Western after all, but the book really gives an insight into what a bizarre and strange time this was. A particularly memorable scene is the arrival of the brothers into San Francisco where the first person they encounter is a man walking barefoot through the streets stroking a chicken having been driven mad by the lust for gold and surrounding decadence and deabauchery in the city.
Featuring plenty of action packed into short and punchy chapters this is a quick and engaging read. Even those who do not consider themselves fans of westerns, this will draw you in from the first page as deWitt himself admits he is not a big fan of westerns.
DeWitt’s first novel, Ablutions, was published in 2009, and was a New York Times Editors’ Choice so that is going to be next on my list. Anyone else have nay recommendations?