Sisters Brothers is a book about two brothers from gold-rush era Oregon and California who are employed as henchmen. They ride horses, camp out on the trail, try to gather clues about their target, and eventually uncover a lot more than they probably wanted to know about him. What starts out as a simple job becomes something more fantastic, and the two become entangled in the life of a man they set out to eliminate.
As I was reading this book last summer, I noticed the author, Patrick deWitt, was local to the Pacific Northwest, and I immediately thought to ask if he would visit Coyote Ridge for a reading. I wanted this particular author to read from this particular book. Sisters Brothers is modern, funny, and easy to read, but also thought-provoking. I felt that inmates might relate to all the characters in the book on some level, not just the hired killers but also the side characters who display a variety of weaknesses that make them human.
To my surprise, Patrick was immediately agreeable and enthusiastic about the idea. He told me he had been wanting to do some sort of work with inmates related to books and writing. He arrived on November 30, 2011, and read from Sisters Brothers for about thirty minutes to an audience of forty inmates. Many of those who attended said they had never been to a live author reading before. There was a seemingly endless supply of questions about the book, writing, publishing. Some had read the book prior to the event and had complex questions about the themes and characters. Others were interested in learning how to improve their own writing, or the process of getting a book published. Patrick patiently answered all the questions, never departing from his kind and gracious demeanor, until the time ran out. He even volunteered to take the unanswered questions, written on slips of paper, and answer them by email after he returned home.
Patrick has written two books and is working on a third.