Skip to main content
August 12, 2013

'It is a wild time here, is it not?' I said to the man.
'It is wild. I fear it has ruined my character. It has certainly ruined the characters of others.' He nodded, as though answering himself. 'Yes, it has ruined me.'
'How are you ruined?' I asked.
'How am I not?' he wondered.
--from Patrick deWitt's The Sisters Brothers

On the trail to the California Gold Rush, you'd be hard-pressed (and a darn sight unlucky) to meet up with a deadlier pair of gunslingers than the infamous Sisters Brothers. Charlie ("the mean one") and Eli ("the fat one") dole out a mostly dubious frontier justice with aplomb. While their quick draws leave little doubt who will still be standing when the smoke clears, it's their mortal souls worth fearing for. This a mother knows, and it's no surprise that Charlie and Eli's won't let them set foot in the door til the day they've given up the profession for good. Not even Eli--the milder one and a better tooth-brusher than any mother could ever wish for.

But it turns out, these two souls may have a saving grace after all--a soft spot of respect for ingenuity and entrepreneurialism. As the sun goes down on their dark careers, one-half of The Sisters Brothers may long for redemption, the other would be content with a hot bath and a good dinner. While inner peace may only be one last job away, trouble is, both boys know that if they cross that river, there's no turning back. Eli soon learns for certain there is one thing more frightening than a spider in a boot, and that is facing the possibility of a future.

Every witty word in The Sisters Brothers is worthy of the book's 2011 shortlisting for the Man Booker Prize and its win in the 2012 showdown for the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

"Indian Horse" by Richard Wagamese

“You go somewhere when you’re on the ice,”  Virgil said to me after one practice.  “It’s like watching you walk into a secret place  that no one else knows how to get to.”
Hockey is the saving grace of young Saul Indian Horse’s life. Lost to his family and orphaned in his grandmother’s arms, eight-year-old Saul is discovered at an icy railroad stop in northern Ontario and stolen away to spend the next six years at St. Jerome’s Indian Residential School.
“St. Jerome’s took all the light from my world,” Saul remembers. He saw children die of abuse or suicide, with whatever they had to take themselves away from hell on earth: a pitchfork; rocks to weigh down a dress in water; rope to swing from the rafters of a barn. Anything, even death, was better than the despair of suffering the school’s daily humiliations.
It is a hockey ice rink, built at St. Jerome’s during Saul’s second winter, that saves him. In the years that follow, the crack of light opened by hockey will widen to include fr…

"The Game of Life" by Rosalys Buckles Thorndike Wilson

“The game of life has been enjoyable and rewarding, and I have competed to the best of my ability.”—from The Game of Life by Rosalys Buckles Thorndyke Wilson
A long life, as Rosalys “Rosie” Buckles Thorndike Wilson looks back upon it, is like a basketball game. It’s played in four quarters (a sport she learned growing up in rural Indiana, where all you needed was a was a hoop on a wall and a ball that had some bounce) with a little time-out in between.

Rosie’s first quarter started out on a small, 20-acre farm near Etna, Indiana. Baths were taken once-a-week in a galvanized tub in front of the kitchen wood stove. There were the requisite chores including chasing down dinner (which, on a fried chicken night, involved catching and decapitating a hen before dipping it quickly in boiling water and then plucking off all its feathers). There was a pony named “Beauty”; “Fluffy” the long-haired cat; “Spot” the rat terrier; “Fuzzy” the baby raccoon and “Duke” a horse retired by the U.S. Caval…

“Something is Always on Fire: My Life so Far” by Measha Brueggergosman

“What I want now is to trust God to bring me through the fire and know that what doesn’t kill me makes me mad, and what makes me mad keeps me moving, and if I’m moving, I’m going to do so with purpose and effectiveness…” from Something is Always on Fire: My Life so Far by Measha Brueggergosman (c. 2017)
A world-class soprano’s highs are very high indeed. Singing for The Queen. Performing the prayer hymn at the 2010 Olympics. Her breathtaking voice and charismatic personality have made Measha Brueggergosman a star many times over.

But then there are the lows that should be out of register, except that they are not. The end of her marriage. Stillborn twins. Open-heart surgery.

And the middle range, that is, daily life. Struggling to fasten the car seat buckles of her two young sons. Never ending bills to pay. The daily exhaustion of balancing family and career. The sandwich that “doesn’t make itself while you binge-watch Scandal.

“Yes, I may create the illusion that the energy is there…