Published by Ecco on May 14th 2011
I’ve been meaning to read this since I first saw the incredible cover (which, unfortunately, is not the version I have) and finally squeezed it in last week. Along with its beautiful artwork, The Sisters Brothers comes with quite a pedigree: making the Man Booker Short List and winning both the Governor General’s Literary Awards and the Tournament of Books in 2011, among others.
The novel, set along the Sierra Nevada mountains in 1851, revolves around Eli and Charlie Sisters, hired killers who head out to find a man named Herman Kermit Warm. The brothers journey from town to town on a pair of second-rate horses, searching for their mark and clearing the path of any obstacles ahead.
The Sisters Brothers is a quick, witty read that combines the gunslinging violence of a classic Western with more subtle themes of morality and humanity. DeWitt develops wonderfully vivid characters with unique quirks and, in some cases, incredible background stories. What I began to notice, however, was that the book was so dialogue and character focused that it spent very little time setting up scenery.
While I don’t think this necessarily took away from the novel as a whole, I think it added to my overall conclusion that The Sisters Brothers might make a better film than book — and that’s not a decision I make often, if ever. The story reads like a movie, as it’s almost entirely dialogue driven, with short, scene-like chapters and intermissions. While I definitely enjoyed the book, I kept thinking about how much I wanted to see each page on the screen. Even looking at the quick book trailer, you can see how much potential there is.
John C. Reilley’s production company has already purchased the film rights and Reilly has expressed interest in playing Eli, which I can totally see working. With the right director and tone, this could be a perfect movie. As we always do when we see book to movie announcements, let’s cross our fingers and hope for the best.