Books on Film: THE SISTERS BROTHERS by Patrick deWitt

One of those novels I’ve had for ages, and yet not managed to read yet… I know many people who loved Patrick deWitt‘s multi-award-winning The Sisters Brothers (especially friends in Canada), so I hope to get to it very soon — ideally, before the movie adaptation comes out.

deWittP-SistersBrothersCAThe Sisters Brothers was directed by Jacques Audiard, who also wrote the screenplay with Thomas Bidegain. The film stars Joaquin Phoenix, John C. Reilly, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Riz Ahmed. It was produced by Annapurna Pictures.

Here’s the novel’s synopsis:

Hermann Kermit Warm is going to die. Across 1000 miles of Oregon desert his assassins, the notorious Eli and Charlies Sisters, ride — fighting, shooting, and drinking their way to Sacramento. But their prey isn’t an easy mark, the road is long and bloody, and somewhere along the path Eli begins to question what he does for a living — and whom he does it for.

The Sisters Brothers pays homage to the classic Western, transforming it into an unforgettable ribald tour de force. Filled with a remarkable cast of losers, cheaters, and ne’er-do-wells from all stripes of life-and told by a complex and compelling narrator, it is a violent, lustful odyssey through the underworld of the 1850s frontier that beautifully captures the humor, melancholy, and grit of the Old West and two brothers bound by blood, violence, and love.

The Sisters Brothers is published by House of Anansi Press in Canada, Ecco in the US and Granta Books in the UK.

Follow the Author: Goodreads

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Quick Review: SHINING CITY by Tom Rosenstiel (Ecco)

RosenstielT-1-ShiningCityUSPolitical intrigue and machinations surrounding a SCOTUS nomination. And a killer looking for revenge…

Peter Rena is a “fixer.” He and his partner, Randi Brooks, earn their living making the problems of the powerful disappear. They get their biggest job yet when the White House hires them to vet the president’s nominee for the Supreme Court. Judge Roland Madison is a legal giant, but he’s a political maverick, with views that might make the already tricky confirmation process even more difficult. Rena and his team go full-bore to cover every inch of the judge’s past, while the competing factions of Washington D.C. mobilize with frightening intensity: ambitious senators, garrulous journalists, and wily power players on both sides of the aisle.

All of that becomes background when a string of seemingly random killings overlaps with Rena’s investigation, with Judge Madison a possible target. Racing against the clock to keep his nominee safe, the President satisfied, and the political wolves at bay, Rena learns just how dangerous Washington’s obsession with power — how to get it and how to keep it — can be.

This is a very fine debut novel. It is the story of a judicial confirmation, the personal and political aspects of such a fight, colliding with a quest for vengeance. If you’re looking for an intelligent political drama, then Shining City is for you. One of my favourite reads of the year so far. Continue reading

Upcoming: TRINITY by Louisa Hall (Ecco)

HallL-TrinityUSLater this year, Ecco is due to publish the new novel by Louisa Hall. Hall’s previous novel, Speak, was a very well written, really interesting novel about AI and what it means to be human — it was published by Ecco in North America, and Orbit in the UK. In Trinity, the author takes on the story of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the nuclear bomb. Here’s the synopsis:

J. Robert Oppenheimer was a brilliant scientist, a champion of liberal causes, and a complex and often contradictory character. He loyally protected his Communist friends, only to later betray them under questioning. He repeatedly lied about love affairs. And he defended the use of the atomic bomb he helped create, before ultimately lobbying against nuclear proliferation.

Through narratives that cross time and space, a set of characters bears witness to the life of Oppenheimer, from a secret service agent who tailed him in San Francisco, to the young lover of a colleague in Los Alamos, to a woman fleeing McCarthyism who knew him on St. John. As these men and women fall into the orbit of a brilliant but mercurial mind at work, all consider his complicated legacy while also uncovering deep and often unsettling truths about their own lives.

In this stunning, elliptical novel, Louisa Hall has crafted a breathtaking and explosive story about the ability of the human mind to believe what it wants, about public and private tragedy, and about power and guilt. Blending science with literature and fiction with biography, Trinity asks searing questions about what it means to truly know someone, and about the secrets we keep from the world and from ourselves.

Trinity is due to be published by Ecco in North America, on October 30th, 2018. I couldn’t find a UK listing for the novel. Hall’s debut, The Carriage House is also available via Scribner (North America) and Penguin (UK).

Also on CR: Review of Speak

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Mini-Review: SPEAK by Louisa Hall (Ecco/Orbit)

HallL-SpeakUSAn interesting, multi-narrative look at AI and what it means to be human

In a narrative that spans geography and time, from the Atlantic Ocean in the seventeenth century, to a correctional institute in Texas in the near future, and told from the perspectives of five very different characters, Speak considers what it means to be human, and what it means to be less than fully alive.

A young Puritan woman travels to the New World with her unwanted new husband. Alan Turing, the renowned mathematician and code breaker, writes letters to his best friend’s mother. A Jewish refugee and professor of computer science struggles to reconnect with his increasingly detached wife. An isolated and traumatized young girl exchanges messages with an intelligent software program. A former Silicon Valley Wunderkind is imprisoned for creating illegal lifelike dolls.

Each of these characters is attempting to communicate across gaps — to estranged spouses, lost friends, future readers, or a computer program that may or may not understand them. In dazzling and electrifying prose, Louisa Hall explores how the chasm between computer and human — shrinking rapidly with today’s technological advances — echoes the gaps that exist between ordinary people. Though each speaks from a distinct place and moment in time, all five characters share the need to express themselves while simultaneously wondering if they will ever be heard, or understood.

This is an interesting novel. I had pretty high hopes, when I first learned of it, and I’m happy to say I wasn’t disappointed. Through four loosely-connected narrative strands, Hall has created a beautifully-written novel about humanity, artificial intelligence, and relationships. With just one caveat, this is an excellent novel. Continue reading

New Books (July)

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Featuring: Libba Bray, Mason Cross, Max Gladstone, Christie Golden, John Gwynne, Louisa Hall, Benedict Jacka, Mike Lawson, James Luceno, Maggie Mitchell, Jamie Schultz, Django Wexler, Chris Wraight Continue reading

New Books (March-April)

PopAnotherBookOnThePile

Featuring: Guy Adams, Jack Campbell, Becky Chambers, Nick Cole, Delilah S. Dawson, Robert Glinski, Sally Green, Dave Guymer, Samantha Harvey, Roger Hobbs, Lucy Hounsom, Stephen Lloyd Jones, Ken Liu, Thomas Mallon, K.T. Medina, Nnedi Okorafor, Bryony Pearce, Andrew Pyper, Josh Reynolds, Ross Ritchell, Lilith Saintcrow, J.P. Smythe, Liesel Schwarz, Sara Taylor, Steve Toltz, Daniel Torday, David Wellington, Chuck Wendig, Paul Witcover Continue reading