Monday, May 7, 2012

Brother, Can You Spare a Gun

These two books about gunslinging brothers are linked in my mind (maybe because of the red covers), and they're both fantastic reads.  Give one of them a try!

The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers by Thomas Mullen

The Firefly Brothers are dead. Or are they? Jason and Whit Fireson, the founding members of the Firefly Gang, wake up in a morgue. The newspapers say they've been gunned down by small town cops, but the brothers don't seem any worse off for it. What's going on? And where is the $70,000 they stole from that bank?

In the middle of the Great Depression the Firefly Gang provides much-needed hope for people whose faith in the American Dream is fading fast. They had a good family, good upbringing, good prospects. But things got tough and the Firesons learned that if you make one bad decision there's not much room for second chances when unemployment rates are over 50%. Robbing banks seems like the best way to bring in some cash in the absence of a fair break. When the American Dream is dead, you've got to make your own dreams.

With the newly formed Bureau of Investigation on their heels, however, the brothers have got to think fast to avoid getting a bullet for their trouble. Or maybe that isn't such a big deal after all. Even after the news of their deaths has spread around the country the Firefly brothers are still being seen in tiny hamlets and big cities. Their girls, Darcy and Veronica, don't know what to think, and neither do the cops.

It may be harder than they thought to kill the American Dream.

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

This is the first book I've ever read from the library's Western section. I don't know how it compares to the other books on this shelf, but it seems to have all the required ingredients: Guns for hire, gold prospectors, saloons with plenty of whiskey, hotels with women to keep a man company, ambushes in the wilderness, even a few Indians.

The narrator of the tale isn't a stoic gunslinger, however, but a contemplative, self-conscious, slightly pudgy follower of his brother's lead. As Eli and Charlie Sisters--famed assassins, feared by everyone they meet--travel from Oregon City to San Francisco in search of their quarry, they leave a trail of bodies in their wake. Charlie seems to be living the life he always wanted. Eli isn't so sure. But how does a gun for hire leave the life without finding a bullet in his back? How does he find a woman to love and a house to call a home? And why does he want to stop anyway? Morality? God? Saddle sores?

If you're a fan of Westerns, this is the book that will give you a slightly different take on the genre. If you're not a fan of Westerns, this is the book that will get you interested.

Review by Danny Hanbery

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