Saturday, 12 July 2014

The Sisters Brothers (and buying a book from a real person)

I went into Better Read than Dead at Newtown to pick up the sequels to Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses when the assistant suggested I read The Sisters Brothers.

At first I pretended I was in a hurry and got all cynical anti-consumerist on her ass. Like the hide of her, trying to suggest something I might like! But I felt it was like she was trying to upsell me. Would you like fries with that? What’s the equivalent, would you like a little Dan Brown, I suppose. (But I have to come clean right up front, Patrick DeWitt is no Dan Brown. And I mean that in the nicest possible way.)

So she just wrote it on a bookmark for me. When I looked at the book name I thought, why isn’t there an apostrophe on Sister’s or Sisters’? That’s just sloppy.

But later, after I’d changed back from super consumer to just an ordinary person again, I found myself in a different Inner West bookshop, Berkelouw, and I saw the book on display. The assistant there said it was the best book she’d read all year.

So I bought it, and I have to say that without those two assistants, I might never have become connected with this black comic western.

And while the first assistant’s actual assistance didn’t help her get a sale, it got the general pool of bricks and mortar book retailers a sale, and what goes around comes around, so they say.

So, like the two people who recommended it to me, I won’t say too much about it except that:

  • Liking Cormac McCarthy is no indicator that you’ll like this book. But there are horses in both.
  • There’s no apostrophe because the brothers’ surname is Sisters.
  • While it’s called a black comedy, it also has a surprising degree of heart.
  • It shows you can become intensely sympathetic to a rage-fuelled murderer, even when the writer keeps emotional language well in check.

And it has a kick-ass cover.


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