Sunday, May 22, 2011
The Western is not dead. The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt is testimony to that. All the elements of the Western tradition are here: the bad guys, the worse guys, gold, bears, horses, violence, guns, gun fights, killing, women and drink. The Sisters brothers, Charlie and Eli, are the bad guys, hired by a worse guy to find and kill a guy (when the job is ordered, the reader does not know the character of the guy to be killed). Charlie is the one with the shorter temper and the taste for whiskey; Eli is the storyteller, telling first about the brothers and their travels, and then telling the story of the man they are supposed to kill, Hermann Kermit Warm. It all comes together on the banks of a river outside of San Francisco during the Gold Rush.
It is the writing that sets The Sisters Brothers apart from other Westerns I've read. The language is very formal. I recall few, if any, contractions in this book (and of course I skimmed through after I thought about this). For example, it is always "cannot" instead of "can't". No one uses the word "ain't". Upon skimming through again, I can't find any of the traditional coarse words used commonly then and used commonly now. Once I started noticing the language, how poetic and formal it is, I found it a fascinating way to tell a story to today's reader.
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt published May 2011 by Ecco; ISBN: 9780062041265
This book was sent to me for review by HarperCollins; no other compensation was offered or accepted for this review.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson is an illuminating book. I learned so much with the narrow focus or window that Mr. Larson provided via the Dodd family. William Dodd becomes ambassador to Germany in Berlin in 1933, and brings his family, along with their Chevrolet with him; his wife Mattie, his son Bill Jr., and daughter Martha.
The reader is given a variety of viewpoints of the changes occurring in Berlin as Hitler becomes more and more powerful as the President’s, Paul von Hindenburg health declines. The viewpoint of the ambassador is very interesting; Mr. Dodd is a scholar and professor, slightly out of his element, but determined to do a good job for his country. Mrs. Dodd does her best in diplomatic society, somewhat restrained by her husband’s determination to live within their salary. Most diplomats of this era seem to have a wealthy background, and living within means is not an issue for them. Bill Jr. remains primarily in the background of this book. Martha, on the other hand, embraces the diplomatic circle of parties, and becomes involved with a variety of men, including a Russian spy, and is even introduced to Adolf Hitler as a possible way to get to her father.
There is so much revealed in this book of the day-to-day darkening of Berlin, and therefore Germany, as Hitler becomes more and more powerful. President Roosevelt does not seem to see the problems that Hitler presents as a leader. The “Jewish question” or “problem”, depending on what country it is being discussed, seems to be something that governments outside of Germany seem to want to approach, and Germany continues its restrictions and eventual persecutions that began before the Dodds arrived in Berlin. (Note: these are my understandings of what I read; any historical mistakes in this paragraph or review are mine).
I found this to be a somewhat frightening read, as the world knows the result of these beginnings in Berlin. What is also scary to me is that different, yet equally evil, situations have evolved in the world since World War II.
I highly recommend In the Garden of Beasts as the viewpoints of one family is a different approach to history.
(who feels that signing off “Happy Reading” would be inappropriate in the case of this book)
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Something new & different for me, but I thought it would be fun:
1. NCIS is my favorite TV show (or movie) because I like crime shows, and especially the teamwork shown on NCIS.
2. Go to page 45 of the book you're reading or of the book closest to you; go to the 6th paragraph and make a sentence out of 7 words from it: "And leave the watch or take it. I won't have it." (The Sisters Brothers, advance readers' copy).
3. I am tired, but wish I could stay up all night reading.
4. I like long walks.
5. Take some time to talk with friends.
6. Everyone needs a bit of humor in their day and in their lives.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to watching the Detroit Red Wings in playoff hockey, tomorrow my plans include working & relaxing in the evening and Sunday, I want to sleep in (before I have to be at work at noon)!
Friday Fill-in credit goes to Janet at http://fridayfillins.blogspot.com/2011_05_01_archive.html