Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

historical fiction
Patrick deWitt
One of the great things about submitting a book for editing is the sense of freedom to do something other than write. It’s like recess … a time for fun until the marked-up manuscript comes back to destroy my illusion that I’ve written a perfect book.

This break has been for family, surfing, and reading. My first fiction reading was The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt. An odd Western, written in an engaging style. So engaging, the style drew me willingly all the way to the last page. The Sisters Brothers is a buddy story, which I normally like, but the protagonist is an antihero, which I normally don’t like. (I prefer flawed heroes that I can empathize with.) The main protagonist is one of the two brothers and he can be endearing in his quest for normalcy. For the most part, he is a dullard, but often shows hints of brilliance. This inconsistency was sometimes jarring.

New writers strive for a unique voice, which is creative writing codswallop. Writers who concentrate on telling a good story and then revise until every word moves the story forward will develop a voice. Those who go after voice first, usually end up boring the reader. deWitt has mastered an entertaining style and it makes the story much more enjoyable than a pedestrian account of oftentimes mundane events. The style is also critical to the story because the two brothers are less than appealing characters.

If you like your Westerns raw, violent, and with only a touch of redemption, you will like The Sisters Brothers.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely writing, great characters, and a story that works from start to finish.

    I found the main character to be surprisingly complex, and enjoyed the way his relationship with his brother unfolded.

    I was really really sad about the horse.