August 12, 2013
'It is a wild time here, is it not?' I said to the man.
'It is wild. I fear it has ruined my character. It has certainly ruined the characters of others.' He nodded, as though answering himself. 'Yes, it has ruined me.'
'How are you ruined?' I asked.
'How am I not?' he wondered.
--from Patrick deWitt's The Sisters Brothers
On the trail to the California Gold Rush, you'd be hard-pressed (and a darn sight unlucky) to meet up with a deadlier pair of gunslingers than the infamous Sisters Brothers. Charlie ("the mean one") and Eli ("the fat one") dole out a mostly dubious frontier justice with aplomb. While their quick draws leave little doubt who will still be standing when the smoke clears, it's their mortal souls worth fearing for. This a mother knows, and it's no surprise that Charlie and Eli's won't let them set foot in the door til the day they've given up the profession for good. Not even Eli--the milder one and a better tooth-brusher than any mother could ever wish for.
But it turns out, these two souls may have a saving grace after all--a soft spot of respect for ingenuity and entrepreneurialism. As the sun goes down on their dark careers, one-half of The Sisters Brothers may long for redemption, the other would be content with a hot bath and a good dinner. While inner peace may only be one last job away, trouble is, both boys know that if they cross that river, there's no turning back. Eli soon learns for certain there is one thing more frightening than a spider in a boot, and that is facing the possibility of a future.
Every witty word in The Sisters Brothers is worthy of the book's 2011 shortlisting for the Man Booker Prize and its win in the 2012 showdown for the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour.