Text Publishing, $29.99 pb, 336 pp, 9781922147325
Craig Sherborne’s previous books include two memoirs, Hoi Polloi (2005) and Muck (2007), and an autobiographical novel, The Amateur Science of Love (2011). His second novel, Tree Palace, is an excursion outside the confines of the first-person narrative. First-person narrative does not of course always imply confinement, but in Sherborne’s case the mining of his own life experience has an intensity of focus and closeness of observation that reminds me of Lucian Freud’s painting. He has a way of pulling you into the room with him and making you look at the nakedness of others, holding you there to witness every nuance of exposure, physical and psychological. Sherborne’s fascination with bodily intimacy focuses on a sexual relationship in The Amateur Science of Love, but in the memoirs it arises from contemplation of evolving family resemblances from his youth and early adulthood through to his parents’ old age. They are a family of three, insular and closely interdependent, and the sense of confinement takes on a genetic dimension.