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Issue 105 - Sibling Strains

Whisky Magazine Issue 105
July 2012


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Sibling Strains

Jefferson Chase reviews another whisky tome

One of the things I kept thinking while reading Patrick deWitt's terrific 2011 novel The Sisters Brothers was “Jeez, this would make a great Coen Brothers film.” As it turns out, actor John C. Reilly has optioned the rights, and he's got a winner on his hands.

The book is a Western set in the Pacific Northwest sometime in the late 19th century and revolves around two siblings for hire, Eli and Charlie Sisters. The boys are partners, and as the story opens, they retire to a saloon to discuss a job that will put their relationship under no small strain: We sat at a table in the back of the King and were brought our usual bottle and a pair of glasses. Charlie poured me a drink, when we normally pour our own, so I was prepared for bad news when he said it: “I'm going to be the lead man on this one.” The job in question, commissioned by an evil magnate known only as the Commodore, is to kill a man named Hermann Warm.

This is a very violent and very funny story, with much of the humour coming from the purposely stilted dialogues between the younger, slightly less intelligent and slightly more moral Eli Sisters, who's the narrator, and his brother.

At one point, he and Charlie debate the ethics of extinguishing a human life for money, only to turn the conservation in a different direction:

“Morals come later. I asked if it would make sense.”
“It would at least make sense, yes.”
“Fine. Now, let us discuss the consequences of disobeying the Commodore.”
“It w...

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