Friday, October 26, 2012

"It is hard to find a friend," I said. "It is the hardest thing in this world," he agreed.

Where to I even begin? I know! By procrastinating on this review a little longer by writing about book expectations.

This isn't the first time that I've picked up a book because other bloggers convinced me I have to. Of course I can't think of any specific examples right now, but it's happened, trust me. This time though it wasn't just a recommendation. I sort of had to read The Sisters Brothers. Not only read it but LOVE IT. Megs, Alice, and Laura all raved about it. That's so much pressure. What if I don't like it? I think I'd be shunned.

Of course there's a problem when expectations are really built up. Can anything ever stand up to such high hopes? Would the book have been better received if you weren't expecting it to be earth shattering? Of course, any recommendation is going to give you some sort of expectation for the book. And if you ignore all recommendations to avoid setting any sort of expectation before you begin, you're going to miss out.

If they (the three above and book bloggers as a whole) hadn't recommended this book, I'm sure I would have passed it by. Western, what now? No, that's cool. You keep your dusty guys and their horses and I'll just be over here. But guys, The Sisters Brothers isn't like that! Well it is, cos there are dusty guys and horses, but I loooove them. Sure, they're hired guns and there's lots of horse riding and shooting and bourbon drinking and the Gold Rush and stuff that I would expect to find in a Western. But there is so much more. The brothers, Eli and Charlie, make the story. Especially Eli, which works out nicely given he's the narrator.

Eli and Charlie are hired guns with quite the reputation. Charlie seems to really enjoy the work, but Eli's not so sure anymore. As they make the journey from Oregon City to San Francisco to kill the prospector Hermann Warm Eli decides maybe this job will be his last.

One thing about reading a book that other people have already reviewed, it means that I already have their thoughts in my head while I'm reading. At least some of their thoughts. Like Megs comment about how Eli squishes women with his love. Yeah, I kept thinking that. It may have stuck in my head because of that lion gif or because the statement is SO ACCURATE. (Both) Oh Eli, I know you mean well, but maybe back down a little bit. For a hit man he can be very sentimental, even when it comes to his sort-of-useless-but-not-at-all-I-love-him horse Tub.

I love the relationship between the brothers. It seems like it's a simple case of Charlie being the leader and Eli following, but there's more than that. There's genuine affection between the two, not only Eli for Charlie (what with all that sentimentality) but also Charlie for Eli, in his own way. His own kind of messed up way. But behind all of the affection, all of the humor is a constant feeling of sadness and loneliness. Which makes sense for a man who makes his living killing but doesn't want to anymore.

So I started this talking about expectations going into a book. There may have been some worry that I didn't like The Sisters Brothers. But I did. I did enjoy it and I can see myself reading it again. However I do think had the expectations not been built up so high I would have liked it even more. It would have surprised me with how good it really was. I hope on a second reading I can focus more on the story and the characters and the language itself.

I can't think of anything else to say so let me just throw some quotes out there, since I highlighted so much and this needs to be shared

"The creak of bed springs suffering under the weight of a restless man is as lonely a sound as I know."

"I reentered the cave to stoke the fire, curling up beside it for warmth, but I could not sleep without proper covering and instead spent the rest of the night rewriting lost arguments from my past, altering history so that I emerged victorious."

"Nodding politely, I said, 'Yes, well, it is fairly obvious that you are in love with me!"
'No,' she said, coloring. 'Not that.'
'I can see it. Hopelessly in love, powerless to guard against it. You shouldn't feel too badly about it, it has happened before.'"

"It must not have been that I loved the bookkeeper, but that I loved the idea of her loving me, and the idea of not being alone."

Hmm, a Western. Who woulda thought?

deWitt, Patrick. The Sisters Brothers. Ecco, 2011. Kindle edition.