"Easier than not doing 'em."Right now I'm reading Matthew Sharpe's The Sleeping Father but I still haven't really engaged with it. Part of the problem is the characters, none of whom are particularly sympathetic to cheer for, nor sufficiently loathsome to hate. The closest I've come to being drawn to a character is Tim, the boozing, chain-smoking grandfather of Chris and Cathy Schwartz who first appears about halfway through the book. I particularly like this understated, well-crafted passage, as the grandkids and their mother visit Tim, who is anything but a graceful host.
Tim uttered a one-syllable toast that none of them could make out, upended a shot of scotch over his wide-open mouth, popped a beer, sipped it, lit a cigarette, smoked it.
Cathy said, "You're amazing."
"I know, I know," Tim said meditatively.
She stared at him for a minute with his slicked-back white hair and his gaunt, white-stubbled face. "Why do you do all that stuff, Grandpa Tim?"
It seemed to Cathy that right now he was doing about five decadent things, but she could only name two: "Smoke, drink."
"Easier than not doing 'em."
Trouble is, after accidentally glancing several chapters ahead, I already know that Tim won't be around much longer. Which will leave me with just the rest of the characters again.