Reading guide for The Sleeping Father by Matthew Sharpe

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

The Sleeping Father

by Matthew Sharpe

The Sleeping Father by Matthew Sharpe
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Paperback:
    Oct 2003, 290 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!



Questions for discussion
  1. What might the author have intended by calling this novel The Sleeping Father? Does the title have any significance beyond its being a reference to the coma that befalls Bernard Schwartz?

  2. One reviewer has described The Sleeping Father as an "inquiry into the weight of words" (Ed Park, Village Voice, March 3–9, 2004). What are some of the places in the book where language is not just the medium but the subject matter? What is the thematic relevance of language in this novel?

  3. Bernard Schwartz's son, Chris, at one point thinks, "[W]hether you embrace irony or not, sooner or later irony embraces you." (p. 122) What is the role of irony in the book? Is there a connection between verbal irony--in which someone says one thing and means another--and dramatic irony--in which someone expects and hopes for the opposite of what they end up getting?

  4. Sharpe describes a neurologist describing Bernard Schwartz's coma: "In the room where Bernie lay inert, Lisa Danmeyer created a second Bernie made of test results and drug names and parts of the brain and biochemical causality and possible outcomes... Lisa Danmeyer's Bernie was the opposite of Jesus: flesh made words." (p. 48) The novel takes up various and sometimes contradictory ways of describing and thinking about the self: the medical, the religious, the poetic, the psychological; where and how else in the novel do you see this theme being investigated?

  5. What issues of race and class come up in this novel, and how are they addressed?

  6. There are a few incidents in the novel that could be construed as supernatural. And Cathy Schwartz, a Jewish girl, immerses herself in Catholicism. What do you make of the way this novel portrays the divine, and the quest for faith?

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Soft Skull Press. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

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!

One-Month Free Membership

Discover your next great read here

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Castle of Water
    Castle of Water
    by Dane Huckelbridge
    When a whopping 24 out of 27 readers give a book 4 or 5 stars, you know you have a winner on your ...
  • Book Jacket: Havana
    Havana
    by Mark Kurlansky
    History with flavor...culture with spice...language with gusto...it would be hard to find a better ...
  • Book Jacket: Temporary People
    Temporary People
    by Deepak Unnikrishnan
    In this powerful and innovative collection of 28 short stories, Deepak Unnikrishnan presents a ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Nest
by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

A funny and acutely perceptive debut about four siblings and the fate of their shared inheritance.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Stars Are Fire
    by Anita Shreve

    An exquisitely suspenseful novel about an extraordinary young woman tested by a catastrophic event.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    If We Were Villains
    by M. L. Rio

    An intelligent and captivating story of the enduring power and passion of words.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you'd rather have been talking

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Y S M B, I'll S Y

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

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

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
Modal popup -