For the first two months of summer I laboured through the first Game of Thrones book. I love the television series but I do not plan on reading the rest of the book series. I would recommend the books only if you have not seen the show. After that, Robyn lent me a stack of lit and I whipped through four novels in about ten days.
I had never heard of The Sisters Brothers or Canadian author Patrick DeWitt but I am extremely pleased that all changed. The Sisters Brothers is the story of Eli and Charlie Sisters. It is 1851 and two professional killers (I prefer "cowboy assassins") are traveling across the somewhat grim and definitely violent landscape of Gold Rush America on a mission to end a man's life (nothing out of the ordinary there).
"You are just like Mother, in many ways."
"You're not. And you're not like Father, either."
"I am like no one."
He said this casually, but it was the type of statement that eclipsed the conversation, killed it. He pulled ahead and I watched his back, and he knew I was watching his back. He stuck Nimble's ribs with his heels and they ran off, with me following behind. We were only traveling in our typical fashion, at our typical pace, but I felt all the same to be chasing him.
But I would not accept the coins and he said, 'Don't think I am going to force it on you. I am overdue for some new clothes anyway. Do you think your mangled, brainless horse can make it to the next town without hurtling itself off a cliff? What's that? You're not smiling, are you? We are in a quarrel and you mustn't under any circumstances smile.' I was not smiling, but then began to, slightly. 'No,' said Charlie, 'you mustn't smile when quarreling. It's wrong, and I dare say you know it's wrong. You must stew and hate and revisit all the slights I offered you in childhood.'
We mounted to leave the camp. I kicked Tub in his ribs and he lay down flat on the ground.
We headed south. The banks were sandy but hard packed and we rode at an easy pace on opposite sides of the stream. The sun pushed through the tops of the trees and warmed our faces; the water was translucent and three-foot trout strolled upriver, or hung in the current, lazy and fat. Charlie called over to say he was impressed with California, that there was something in the air, a fortuitous energy, was the phrase he used. I did not feel this but understood what he meant. It was the thought that something as scenic as this running water might offer you not only aesthetic solace but also golden riches; the thought that the earth itself was taking care of you, was in favor of you. This was perhaps what lay at the very root of the hysteria surrounding what came to be known as the Gold Rush: Men desiring a feeling of fortune; the unlucky masses hoping to skin or borrow the luck of others, or the luck of a destination. A seductive notion, and one I thought to be wary of. To me, luck was something you either earned or invented through strength of character. You had to come by it honestly; you could not trick or bluff your way into it.
Image from Google Images. Quotes from The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt (Toronto: Anansi Press, 2011).