Excerpt from The Sleeping Father by Matthew Sharpe, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Sleeping Father

By Matthew Sharpe

The Sleeping Father
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Paperback: Oct 2003,
    290 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Part One
1.

Chris Schwartz's father's Prozac dosage must have been incorrect, because he awoke one morning to discover that the right side of his face had gone numb. This was the second discovery on a journey Chris's father sensed would carry him miles from the makeshift haven of health. The first discovery had been, of course, the depression for which the Prozac was meant to be the cure, a discovery made not by Bernard Schwartz but by his son, Chris. Chris figured it out first because that was how things worked in this family . Soul of son and soul of dad were linked by analogy. No tic or mood swing in the one did not go unrepresented in the susceptible equipment of the other.

Bernie Schwartz leaned in close to the mirror in his bedroom and poked the right side of his face with the sharp bottom of the pocket-size silver crucifix his daughter, Cathy, had given him. Seventeen-year-old Chris, in his room, typed the following sentence into an email he was about to send to his friend Frank Dial: "You know you're dead when... your friends throw dirt in your face." This was the newest addition to a group of aphorisms Chris and Frank were developing for a computer screen-saver program that they hoped to sell one day soon for a huge amount of money or, failing that, a tiny amount of money.

Chris sent the sentence and went to the window and opened it and looked out. It was seven o'clock on a fine autumn morning in Bellwether, Connecticut. Chris looked at the trees and the grass, he looked at his own driveway, his wooden fence, the street beyond it, several houses within looking range, back to the fence, the roses by the fence, the cars, a crushed Coke can, a small unintelligible pile of dirt, a neighborhood squirrel, a fly, a dog. He looked at the street again, and the cars parked in the driveways, and he marveled at how each car had a driveway to park in and how every driveway in the world had a street at one end and a house at the other. Chris felt that if he'd been the guy they came to when they needed someone to invent the thing to convey the cars from the streets to the houses, he'd have choked, he'd have let down humanity.

Chris thought of his mom in California. Often when he thought of his mom in California, he thought of her standing tall and strong in a long white robe at the edge of the ocean, her arms aloft, her hands clenched in fists, watching a thirty-foot wave approach her. The wave breaks on top of her head, and when it has subsided, there she stands in the same position, fists high, face wet, eyes open, wet hair streaming down the back of her white robe. Chris had the same hair as his mother, though not literally of course.

Chris thought of his dad in the next room and felt the astonishing surge of affection and sadness that had accompanied his dad-related thoughts of the past year. Chris thought of his nervous, obsessive little sister, felt a discomfort he did not wish to explore, hurried on to the next thought, which was people all across Bellwether, Connecticut, waking up to classical music or a hangover, jogging with the dog, ironing a shirt, putting on aftershave or eyeliner, buying the paper, catching the train to the city: all the wretched conduct that made humanity God's chosen.

Chris made a stop at the mirror to study that miniature version of humanity, his own face, on which adolescent discomfort expressed itself through the medium of acne. Chris returned to his computer, where a reply from Frank Dial awaited him: "You know you're having a bad day when... you wake up naked and face-down on the sidewalk of an unfamiliar city to find a policeman beating the backs of your thighs with a billy club." Upon reading this latest of Frank's aphorisms, Chris felt so lucky to have a friend like Frank that he almost wept. He prevented himself from weeping by uttering the words "Don't weep, shithead."

2.

Chris entered the kitchen in time to hear his sister say, "Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts which we are about to receive from Thy bounty, through Christ our lord. Amen."

From The Sleeping Father by Matthew Sharpe - pages 3 to 16 and 22-30. Copyright Matthew Sharpe 2004. All rights reserved. No part of this book maybe reproduced without written permission from the publisher, Soft Skull Press.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Promise
    The Promise
    by Ann Weisgarber
    Canadian author, Lucy Maud Montgomery of Anne of Green Gables fame, once wrote that "...all things ...
  • Book Jacket: Black Moon
    Black Moon
    by Kenneth Calhoun
    The popularity of book-turned-movie World War Z and television series The Walking Dead points to a ...
  • Book Jacket: Hyde
    Hyde
    by Daniel Levine
    In Robert Louis Stevenson's 1886 novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the story ends ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

Published Apr. 2014

Join the discussion!

Win this book!
Win The Steady Running of the Hour

The Steady Running of the Hour

"Exciting, emotionally engaging and amibtious. I loved it!" - Kate Mosse

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

I T T O A Eye

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.