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The Sleeping Father

Genre: Fiction; Author: Matthew Sharpe

Take a sitcom family, steep it in neuroses, and what you get is the Schwartz clan. After accidentally mixing antidepressants, the patriarch, Bernard, lands in a coma. That leaves son Chris, a perversely sarcastic adolescent, and daughter Cathy, a devoutly Catholic Jew who has barely seen the inside of a church, in charge. (Mom’s moved out West and become a litigator who hops into bed with the computer repairman, among others.) Instead of bringing the family together, Bernard’s slow recovery provides an excuse for everyone to indulge in their eccentricities. Sharpe’s heartfelt characters never quite escape the weight of their own personalities. And, in the end, the Schwartzes suffer the fate of most lovable sitcom households that have reached the final episode in their run: They live on in perpetual motion with no resolution in sight.

Originally posted November 28 2003 — 12:00 AM EST

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