The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
Published by Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins

From the publisher:

Hermann Kermit Warm is going to die. The enigmatic and powerful man known only as the Commodore has ordered it, and his henchmen, Eli and Charlie Sisters, will make sure of it. Though Eli doesn’t share his brother’s appetite for whiskey and killing, he’s never known anything else. But their prey isn’t an easy mark, and on the road from Oregon City to Warm’s gold-mining claim outside Sacramento, Eli begins to question what he does for a living–and whom he does it for.

So, there has been much love for The Sisters Brothers, but you just aren’t going to find it here. The writing is solid and the characterizations good, but something about deWitt’s novel just didn’t sparkle for me. Honestly, I think that the issue is that I’m just not into Westerns. I may have had the idea that The Sisters Brothers wasn’t really a proper Western – and perhaps it isn’t, I suppose I don’t really know enough about the conventions of the genre to  say with any authority – but it still just didn’t do it for me. Many people found it extremely funny, but deWitt’s humor seems not really to mesh with my own, so it fell flat for me.While it was easy to turn the pages, it was even easier to put the book down, and nothing in particular compelled me to pick it back up.

I may be in the minority here, but I failed to love The Sisters Brothers.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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13 rue Therese by Elena Mauli Shapiro – Book Review

13 rue Therese by Elena Mauli Shapiro
Published by Reagan Arthur Books, an imprint of Hachette

Josianne has a box, the contents of which can induce fevers. Since she received the box, she has gifted it to a variety of men, scholars, but the box always makes its way home to Josianne. Her latest find is Trevor Stratton, an American translator of French who has come to work for her university. She hides the box in a file cabinet in his office, letting him believe he has discovered a hidden gem. And, indeed, the box has a fabulous cache of historical material, surrounding Louise Bruent, a French woman living at 13, rue Therese between World War I and World War II. As Trevor dives deeper into the artifacts in the box, he finds himself increasingly pulled into Lousie’s world.

I cannot decide whether the writing or the illustrations of 13, rue Therese are more striking. The author, Elena Mauli Shapiro, actually lived in an apartment below the real Louise Brunet in Paris and was left with a box of her possessions when the older woman died, many of the contents of which are reproduced in color right in the pages of the book, in line with the text. For example, from page 77:

Despite his horrid spelling and his atrocious punctuation, you can see Camille is clever: he has punned. If you look very closely at the front side of the card, you can just make out that he has rubbed off the manufactured greeting that was previously there and written in his own hand, “Thoughts of the absent.” The French word for “thought” (pensée) is also the French word for “pansy,” which is the flower pictured therein. So, he is giving her flower/thoughts, on paper.

All of the illustrations from the book can actually be found on the book’s website, along with their accompanying text, and even a clip of the audio book.

Shapiro has written an incredibly creative book. Not only has she reimagined and recreated in vivid detail the life of a real woman, illustrating it with real artifacts, but she has also given us a novel that plays with the constraints of time in amazing ways. Trevor becomes obsessed with the Louise and the contents of the box to the extent where he – and the reader – is unsure of where or when he is at time. History and the present collide in a puzzling, but ultimately fascinating way.

You must be ready to think and be immersed when you pick up 13 rue Therese, but for the reader who is prepared for this, it is well worth the read. Highly recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells |Indiebound | Amazon*

Check out the 13, rue Therese website, very interactive and cool.

Source: publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

College in a Nutskull edited by Anders Henriksson – Book Review

College in a Nutskull edited by Anders Henriksson

You know those books about funny malapropisms that kids make? The ones that almost make you cringe because they show such a lack of either thought or education?

Okay, well, imagine one of those, but filled with things that college students have written on tests. Such a book is “College in a Nutskull.”

Anders Henriksson, a professor at Shepherd College in West Virgina, has collected some of the most completely absurd things that college students around the United States have ever written on exams, and put them into this book, organized by subject and designed to look like a spiral-bound notebook. Some of my favorites:

John McCane’s biggest mistake was to think that Sara Palin could cattle pout him into the White House

Life in the trenches was very dangerous due to constant attacks by submarines.

Fascism is where your social life is totally on Facebook.

When I first received this book, I wasn’t really sure it would appeal to me. Then I sat down and began flipping through it, and had a hard time putting it down! Reading it a section or two at a time, I finished this entire book in a single day. Normally these types of books made me cringe, but this one was so funny (cattle pout? hilarious!) that funny beat out sad for me. Of course there were some cringe-worthy moments too (note to all college students, fascism has nothing to do with Facebook!), but on the balance I really enjoyed “College in a Nutskull.”

Give this book to your favorite graduate – if only to make sure that they don’t think any of this makes sense!

Buy this book from:
Powells.*
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound.*
Amazon.*

This review was done with a book received unsolicited from the publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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