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The Sleeping Father

About the Book

The Sleeping Father

Bernard Schwartz has lost his wife, his career, and finally, thanks to the accidental combination of two classes of antidepressants, his consciousness. He emerges from a coma to find his son Chris, the perpetual smart-ass, and his daughter Cathy, a Jewish teen turned self-martyred Catholic, stumbling headlong toward trauma-induced maturity. The Sleeping Father is about the loss of innocence, the disorienting innocence of second childhood, the biochemical mechanics of sanity and love, the nature of language and meaning, and the spirituality of selfhood. But most of all it is about the Schwartzes, a singular yet typical American family making their way the best way they know how in a small town called Bellwether, Connecticut.

The Sleeping Father also explores the shift in the way Americans think about mental health: away from regarding ourselves as being shaped by our upbringings and toward regarding ourselves as being shaped by the chemicals in our bloodstreams. The American family, in this novel, emerges as a microcosm of larger social institutions; moms and dads function as in-home teachers, priests, presidents, and CEOs. In focusing on the Schwartz family in crisis, Sharpe addresses the larger crisis in faith and authority in contemporary American life.

The Sleeping Father
by Matthew Sharpe

  • Publication Date: September 26, 2003
  • Paperback: 291 pages
  • Publisher: Soft Skull Press
  • ISBN-10: 193236000X
  • ISBN-13: 9781932360004