|9780062041289 — Paperback|
Stark and well written, the book is an interesting take on the Western genre.
This is a new take on the Western genre and focuses on two anti-heros which is appealing to readers.
The Sisters brothers a well known hired killers. They are travelling West at the behest of their employer Commodore to kill a man named Warm. Eli is put out that the Commodore has named his brother Charlie the lead man on this mission. Eli becomes sick early in the journey and Charlie has to care for him. They go to a dentist to get Eli’s head drained.
As they travel, they stay the night in a shack that was occupied by an old woman. She leaves spell beads across the door, so Charlie goes through the window to search for an axe to free his brother. Eli’s horse Tub is under attack from a bear and he can’t shoot the bear from the door. So he breaks through the beads and out the door to shoot the animal.
Eli isn’t fond of his horse at first, but when given the opportunity to replace the animal, he keeps it. Eli is kind to the woman at the inn where he and his brother stay, while his brother drinks himself to a stupor and sleeps with whores.
They cross the mountains and hear rumors that a man named Mayfield will pay a hundred dollars for the skin of a red bear. Charlie spots the animal and shoots it. They deliver the skin, and Mayfield puts them up for the night. They drink. Eli connects with the bookkeeper woman, and gives her some money. He says he will be back in 2 weeks after they take care of Warm. Eli and Charlie steal all but a hundred dollars of Mayfield’s money.
They make their way to San Francisco to kill their quarry but find their contact man gone, joined up with Warm. They track Warm to his claim and try to convince him to give them his formular for gold.
This is an interesting book. Its told from Eli’s POV. He’s a more sympathetic character than his brother. Eli seems to feel for people, and creatures at times and is struggling with his chosen career. Charlie, on the other hand, is a drunken sociopath with a gun.
The plot was good. It was simple and only deviated to show character moments. Both Eli and Charlie were three dimensional. The story clearly showed Eli struggling with his career as a paid killer and how his brother loved what he did. Their relationship was front and center and detailed. The setting was well done. It was stark and empty, just like it would have been in that time period.
I liked this book, but wasn’t connected to it emotionally like other books I’ve read. It was a compelling read, but not emotional.
I’m not sure if this is a pure enough Western for Western readers. It might be a little too mainstream for Literary readers. I do think it would be just fine for more mainstream audiences.
Literary Fiction, Western
True Grit by Charles Portis
The Hawkline Monster by Richard Brautigan
A Western from the POV of a paid killer. Its a very literary take on Western.
Book Discussion Questions and Ideas
Discuss Eli and Charlie’s relationship.
Discuss Eli’s relationship with Tub.
ALA Notable Books – Fiction: 2012
Canadian Authors Association Literary Awards: MOSAID Technologies Inc. Award for Fiction
CBA Libris Awards (Canadian Booksellers Association): Fiction Book of the Year
Governor General’s Literary Awards: English-Language Fiction
Oregon Book Awards: Ken Kesey Award for Fiction
Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize
Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour
Why I Chose It
I wanted a modern Western and this sounded like an intriguing one.