Welcome to Imprint Friday and today's featured imprint: Ecco books. Stop by each week to be introduced to a must-read title from one of my favorite imprints. I know you'll be adding many of these books to your wish list.
Now here's a book that needs little introduction. Patrick deWitt's The Sisters Brothers made the Man Booker short list this year and is generating quite a bit of buzz all on its own.
Here's what it's all about:
Hermann Kermit Warm is going to die. The enigmatic and powerful man known only as the Commodore has ordered it, and his henchmen, Eli and Charlie Sisters, will make sure of it. Though Eli doesn't share his brother's appetite for whiskey and killing, he's never known anything else. But their prey isn't an easy mark, and on the road from Oregon City to Warm's gold-mining claim outside Sacramento, Eli begins to question what he does for a living—and whom he does it for.Whoa! A Western? Well, yes, it is, but it's a different kind of Western and one that shouldn't be read too closely as historical fiction. Instead this a story of brothers and their strange journey on their way to do a violent job. Their adventure is told by Eli, the younger of the two, who is self-conscious of his weight and considered a bit slow but who, nonetheless is thoughtful and observant:
With The Sisters Brothers, Patrick deWitt pays homage to the classic Western, transforming it into an unforgettable comic tour de force. Filled with a remarkable cast of characters—losers, cheaters, and ne'er-do-wells from all stripes of life—and told by a complex and compelling narrator, it is a violent, lustful odyssey through the underworld of the 1850s frontier that beautifully captures the humor, melancholy, and grit of the Old West and two brothers bound by blood, violence, and love.
This perhaps was what lay at the very root of the hysteria surrounding what came to be known as the Gold Rush: Men desiring a feeling of fortune; the unlucky masses hoping to skin or borrow the luck of others, or the luck of a destination. A seductive notion, and one I though to be wary of. To me, lucky was something you either earned or invented through strength of mind. You had to come by it honestly; you could not trick or bluff your way into it.The brothers couldn't be more different and yet they are bound by blood, love, and experience. As they make their way south to California, getting out of one scrape after another, you root for them—especially Eli—to somehow survive their mission.
Thanks to The Sisters Brothers's Man Booker nomination, there have been many reviews and analyses of the novel. Here are three thoughts (click on the links for the full reviews):
- Jake Wallis Simons writing for The Independent: "The travails of the humane yet morally ambiguous protagonist in a hostile, lawless and unpredictable universe have echoes of Cormac McCarthy's speculative classic The Road. That book imagines a journey through a world in which civilisation has died; [The Sisters Brothers] explores a world in which civilisation, as we know it, has not yet emerged. But both have much to say about the business of being human."
- Michael Christie, writing for the National Post: "Most of all, it is in the small details of their day-to-day lives where the conventions of the Western are deliciously trampled. Sure, there are saloons, prostitutes, brawls and sneak attacks on the bad guy’s camp, but the Sisters brothers mostly battle the mundane. . . . The overall effect is fresh, hilariously anti-heroic, often genuinely chilling, and relentlessly compelling. Yes, this is a mighty fine read, and deWitt a mighty fine writer."
- Ron Charles writing for the Washington Post: "After capturing the fireside camps and saloons in perfectly drawn vignettes, deWitt strips these two lethal brothers of more than they ever thought a man could lose. And then, damned if he doesn’t surprise us again with a twilight scene that’s just miraculously lovely."
Beth Fish Reads is proud to showcase Ecco books as a featured imprint on this blog. For more information about Ecco, please read the introductory note from Vice President / Associate Publisher Rachel Bressler, posted here on July 15, 2011. Find your next great read by clicking on Ecco in the scroll-down topics/labels list in my sidebar and by visiting Ecco books on Facebook and following them on Twitter.