Patrick DeWitt: Fitting Name

09 Jan Patrick DeWitt: Fitting Name

As we near completion of The Sisters Brothers, I most admire author, Patrick DeWitt, for his, well…wit. Before I get into that, take a look at this cover I found online. I’ve never seen it before and must admit, I really don’t care much for it. For one thing, it doesn’t portray the characters (portly Eli & strong Charlie) in the manner the author describes them. Really, it can’t compare to the brilliant red cover featuring the brothers embedded in a skull.

I do love this review, by the Toronto Star. It sums up my feelings about the book thus far:

“Combine the casual, brutal violence of Cormac McCarthy (The Road) with an English comedy of manners–PG Wodehouse works–add a dash of Heart of Darkness, and you get the gist of what Patrick deWitt  has done, to brilliant effect…I doubt very much I’ll read a funnier, more original book than this picaresque, Wild West tale…The western has been spoofed perhaps more than any other genre, but never quite in such a masterfully strange and wonderful way as this.”

I was trying to describe the book to my mother in law, a voracious reader. It’s well written, so darkly funny, but it’s absolutely quirky. As the reader you are along for the ride, touring with Eli and Charlie as they make their way toward San Fransico to hunt down their man. It’s a journey I was (now having nearly finished the book) more than willing to take, the writing is so good. That said, not a whole lot happens out there. Characters come and go as the brothers stay at different hotels enroute or camp out. But with a very concise and clever hand, author DeWitt constructs the unraveling of Eli, bit by bit, character by character who comes into his life to teach something about himself.

There are plenty of tender parts, but it is completely without sentiment.

I leave you now with a few fantastic quotes from the book–examples of DeWitt’s subtle but superb wit, in my opinion! Gathered from Good Reads, here we be:

“…but I could not sleep without proper covering and spent the rest of the night rewriting lost arguments from my past, altering history so that I emerged victorious.”
Patrick deWitt, The Sisters Brothers

“Here is another miserable mental image I will have to catalog and make room for.”
Patrick deWitt, The Sisters Brothers

“Come with me into the world and reclaim your independence. You stand to gain so much, and riches are the least of it.”
Patrick deWitt, The Sisters Brothers

Mayfield said, “You asked what I was thinking. Well, I will tell you. I was thinking that a man like myself, after suffering such a blow as you men have struck on this day, has two distinct paths he might travel in his life. He might walk out into the world with a wounded heart, intent on sharing his mad hatred with every person he passes; or, he might start out anew with an empty heart, and he should take care to fill it up with only proud things from then on, so as to nourish his desolate mind-set and cultivate something positive or new.”
Patrick deWitt, The Sisters Brothers

This moment, this one position in time, was the happiest I will ever be as long as I am living. I have since felt it was too happy, that men are not meant to have access to this kind of satisfaction; certainly it has tempered every moment of happiness I have experienced since.”
Patrick deWitt, The Sisters Brothers