We've been talking up the new novel by Patrick DeWitt, The Sisters Brothers, for weeks now, so much that we sold our first order on publication date this past Tuesday. That's a great feeling for booksellers, to have people coming in excited about an author they've never read, a book so new it hasn't even been reviewed yet.
We hope you'll accept, with similar enthusiasm as others who came to Tuesday to snatch up the first copies, our recommendation of this novel, which possesses just the sort of effortless readability, intelligence, humor and uniqueness that we crave in books and love to share.
The novel follows two brothers, Eli and Charlie Sisters, hired guns for a mysterious businessman who has sent them to California to murder a gold prospector. The time is 1851, and they will encounter certain danger on the trail, trouble with the horses, ruffians in the barrooms and flophouses along the way. There is gunplay and thievery in spades. But this is no typical Western. It has a kind of modern conscience without betraying its setting and period. It's a humanist Western with sly humor, a fleet pace and conversation worth hearing.
A number of comparisons spring to mind. There is the deadpan humor and marvelous dialogue of Charles Portis' True Grit, an oft-claimed favorite here, and there is something too in the welcome strangeness of Tom Franklin's Smonk, the artful realism of David Milch's Deadwood and the post-modern existentialism of Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man. But these are only referential touchstones, for there is something very unique and singular about this fine novel, which is born out of the prose and certainly the character of these brothers, who are at odds as brothers will be, both needing different things out of life, and yet they are still composed of the same material. The novel -- in essence a road story -- takes interesting detours and never panders to expectations, especially when the brothers arrive at their mission, and also at the end, which is boldly subversive in its way.
But we've sold this book by simply telling readers that this is the one book out of ten or twenty you search for, a simple entertainment with brains which possesses a rare magic, a book you'll feel compelled to read in a fair rush, all for the simple pleasure of a good story told well.