University of Southern Mississippi will host award-winning novelist
Matthew Sharpe for three days, Oct. 11-13, as part of the visiting
writers program. Sharpe's most recent novel, The Sleeping Father,
was selected by Susan Isaacs for the Today Show Book Club last spring
and received praise from George Saunders, Anne Tyler, The New York
Times and a host of other publications. During his residency at the
Center for Writers, Sharpe will facilitate an afternoon workshop with
graduate students and meet with them individually for one-on-one consultations.
A reading, open to the public, will be held at the Southern Miss Alumni
House at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 11.
The Sleeping Father tells the story of Chris and Cathy
Schwartz, teenagers who spend their inheritance trying to rehabilitate
their father, comatose after combining incompatible antidepressants.
Despite the dark premise, Sharpe offers a humorous and affectionate
portrait of family life in contemporary America. Short story writer
George Saunders says, "Matthew Sharpe's vision of American
life is fresh, original, and very funny, funny in the way that occasionally
makes you sob, original in the way that makes you look at everything--hospitals,
suburban shrubs, grousing, sad-faced families--in a new and kinder
light." The New York Times remarked, "He's a rare find:
an ironist who actually seems to like other people." In addition
to being selected by the Today Show, The Sleeping Father was also
awarded the Independent Publishers Award and has been optioned by
Sharpe's reading is a terrific contribution to the
Hattiesburg cultural calendar, while his extended interaction with
the Center for Writers graduate students will provide them with
insight and professional guidance beyond the school's already distinguished
faculty. A graduate of Columbia University's MFA program in fiction,
Sharpe has been on the faculty of Bard College, the Bronx Academy
of Letters, the New College of Florida and Wesleyan University.
His fiction has also appeared in Bomb, American Letters and Commentary,
Nerve, Zoetrope, Harper's, Southwest Review, Mississippi Mud, Witness,
The Quarterly, Fiction, and elsewhere. Additionally, his nonfiction
work has appeared in Outside, Details, Elle, Conde Nast Traveler,
Teachers & Writers magazine, and others.
Additional visitors are scheduled throughout the 2004-2005
academic year. For more information about the Southern Miss Center
for Writers, contact Rie Fortenberry at (601) 266-5600.
PRAISE FOR THE SLEEPING FATHER
"And my favorite this week is a fresh, funny,
quirky book called The Sleeping Father by Matthew Sharpe ..."
"Sharpe's arch tone is charmingly at odds with
the sprawling, inclusive structure of The Sleeping Father....He's
a rare find: an ironist who actually seems to like other people."
Claire Dederer, The New York Times Book Review
"[A]cidly funny....Readers...should appreciate
Sharpe's clearly drawn characters and his thoughtful, if withering,
examination of the contemporary hierarchies of family and authority."
This novel is fluent and funny, clever and wise. It
is so skillfully constructed and its tempo so beautifully modulated
that it slowly becomes sad without you noticing and then frightening
and then funny again. In The Sleeping Father, Matthew Sharpe proves
himself a master conjuror of tones.