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
  • 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!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Opposite of Everyone
by Joshilyn Jackson

"Quirky and appealing characters, an engaging story, and honest dialogue make this a great book!"
- BookBrowse

About the book
Join the discussion!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: A Great Reckoning
    A Great Reckoning
    by Louise Penny
    Canadian author Louise Penny is back with her twelfth entry in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache ...
  • Book Jacket: Homegoing
    Homegoing
    by Yaa Gyasi
    It's all very well to challenge people to be the masters of their own destiny, but when you&#...
  • Book Jacket: When Breath Becomes Air
    When Breath Becomes Air
    by Paul Kalanithi
    When Breath Becomes Air is the autobiography of Paul Kalanithi, written in the time period between ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Victoria
    by Daisy Goodwin

    Daisy Goodwin breathes new life into Victoria's story, and does so with sensitivity, verve, and wit." - Amanda Foreman

    Read Member Reviews

Who Said...

Being slightly paranoid is like being slightly pregnant – it tends to get worse.

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

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay:
$400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

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.