Carry me, son. Do not leave me behind.
Are you listening to me?
Of course you’re listening, you say, and add the F-word. Off you go to cope with a storm. Lucerne armfuls for horses. For cows, rye-spindly hay.
Alone in the paddocks of his grass hotel a man tends to his beloved horses, Sock and Boy. The voice of his mother—accusatory, fragmenting from dementia—haunts his every move, an excoriating reminder of his failures in the world of people.
The Grass Hotel is a story of damage and repair, of familial obligation and the resentments it can cause. It is also about the profound comfort that a connection with animals can offer.
With its extraordinary use of language, Craig Sherborne’s novel is by turns savage and tender, raw and poetic: a small masterpiece.
‘Pays homage to the body in all its vulnerabilities…The Grass Hotel is an unsparing but humane portrait of a mother and son.’
‘Sherborne’s talents with narrative and poetry combine to produce a striking fiction…offering a unique, vivid portrait of his characters. With the crystallisation and compression of poetry, Sherborne explores ideas of property, freedom and loyalty, and produces a novel as beautiful in its conjunctions as the chandelier swinging over its landscapes.’
‘A riveting piece of writing that is liable to transfix any reader who gets past the opening chapter…Sherborne is a breathtaking writer because he writes of unspeakable things with a kind of affectless gaucherie that dazzles the mind…this is an engulfing, heart-stopping book—a performance that dazzles the eyes and leaves the reader gasping for air.’
‘The novel’s poetic, image-rich, disjointed realm is immersive and memorable…The Grass Hotel leaves us with a persuasive articulation of familial power dynamics, their emotional turbulence.’
‘[Craig Sherborne] writes simple sentences full of emotional power…This [is a] soul-searching novel, in which long-suppressed memories are hinted at and then slowly released.’
‘At every turn the book’s natural lyricism and gentle melancholy rub against [a] darker mood—resentment, disappointment, all the unsettled scores of parent and child, even after death…At every turn the prose is taut, fractured and imagistic—a sustained act of broken beauty over 200 pages…[Sherborne] has used fiction and imagination to raise the contemptuous cliche of a common life to the highest fury and power…What matters more than the mere actual of personal history is the summoned force of art, and it’s here where the book’s power lies. It is genuinely haunted, and haunts in turn.’
‘Sherborne does an incredible job with the mother’s narration…Brilliantly written.’
‘[A] remarkable feat of wordsmithing…It’s a version of a black and terrible joke that the person who has lost correct and coherent language is written by someone who is something of a word magician…The Grass Hotel stands alone as a virtuosic deferral of self-examination by delivering an often cruel version of a woman who has lost her mind.’
’[The Grass Hotel] shows off Sherborne’s considerable experience as both a poet and playwright.’
‘Told in a sometimes comic, sometimes abrasive wild poetry.’