A couple of days ago I broke my kindle. It didn’t have its protective cover on it, and it fell from my hand on to the wooden floor with a mighty crash hard enough to jar the back loose. I picked it up and got it snapped back together, but no amount of button pushing or shaking or cursing could coax it back to life. Mark Twain was the screen saver at the fatal moment, and he has been slowly fading from view ever since.
Well, crap. What a bummer of a sad moment. I was in the middle of some weird story but I decided it wasn’t good enough to warrant risking getting permanently crossed eyes trying to continue reading it on my tiny phone screen. So that left me with no alternative but to go looking for a real book instead. It was a quick search, because I have a whole room full of real books for just such dire emergencies.
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt caught my eye. It’s bright and red and kind of gruesome looking. I don’t know why I’ve been neglecting it for such a long time, because it looks GOOD, doesn’t it? That’s some amazing book cover art. I don’t think I even bothered to read the back cover or the inside flap when I bought it and may have been influenced solely by the big gold sticker on the front which reads…..
Governor General’s Literary Award
Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize
…because it turns out it’s a book about two psycho cowboys in the Gold Rush of the Wild West in the 1850’s. It’s a Western, and I never read Westerns. These guys are hired guns and they travel around on horseback drinking whiskey and shooting people. At least that was my first impression. But the more I read, the more I loved it. From the cover flap, which I finally read in its entirety -
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. 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 humour, melancholy, and grit of the Old West and two brothers bound by blood, violence, and love.
That’s an excellent synopsis. Maybe I was just desperate to read anything at all rather than go into panic mode over my busted kindle, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Despite all the gun-slinging and lawlessness, there are some very funny and touching moments.
It took me all of twenty minutes of mourning the loss of my faithful old kindle to go on-line and order a new and improved version. Yes, I am a spoiled brat with a broken toy, demanding a new one. But my kindle was one of the originals, and the one I’ve ordered is the new paper white model with a built-in light and a touch screen, so no more tiny keyboard for my fat fingers. It has been shipped already and will be arriving soon. I probably have time for one more 3-D paperback from the emergency library while I’m impatiently waiting.
I am such a book-aholic. I don’t think there is any cure for this. I mean, seriously, I just read a Western.