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 X
The Sleeping Father by Matthew Sharpe
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Paperback:
    Oct 2003, 290 pages

    Genres

  • 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!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    La Belle Sauvage
    by Philip Pullman
    Voted 2017 Best Young Adult Novel by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    I wasn't quite sure what to expect ...
  • Book Jacket: Conviction
    Conviction
    by Denise Mina
    Scottish author Denise Mina's latest novel, Conviction, is a fast-paced thriller narrated by Anna, a...
  • Book Jacket
    Dread Nation
    by Justina Ireland
    The war between the states is over and, instead, a very different battle is being waged for the ...
  • Book Jacket: Costalegre
    Costalegre
    by Courtney Maum
    The year is 1937 and Hitler is gaining stronger sway over Europe. Chief among the Führer's ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Ellie and the Harpmaker
    by Hazel Prior

    A rich, heartwarming and charming debut novel about finding love in unexpected places.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club
Book Jacket
America for Beginners
by Leah Franqui

A poignant debut that explores unlikely friendships forged in unusual circumstances.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Book Club Giveaway!
Win Crudo

Crudo by Olivia Laing

A brilliant, funny, and emphatically raw novel of love on the brink of the apocalypse.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

S A A B In A R

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 the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.