A dazzlingly original memoir, Paper Cuts takes us inside the mind of a young Oxford academic devastated by severe mental illness.
‘I have a small line of red dots on the back of my left hand, where the needle goes in. I have had hundreds of ketamine injections, more than anyone else, perhaps. The needle goes in, and the truth comes out. Sometimes I am a child again. Sometimes I have the innocence of a child, but I am not innocent. I know too much. I have known too much.’
With Paper Cuts, Stephen Bernard boldly lives through the trauma of childhood abuse and mental illness. He writes to escape and confront, to accuse and explain.
Each morning when he wakes, Stephen Bernard must reconstruct his self: every night he writes himself a letter to be read the next day. The fractured, intensely personal narrative of Paper Cuts follows a single day in his life as he navigates a course through the effects of mania, medication and memories.
‘Beautifully written… Brilliant’
‘Distinguished and desolating… The saving grace is the writer’s undaunted eye for the beauty of the world’
‘Chilling, riveting, extraordinary, wonderful’
‘It is an extraordinary book in its unblinking truthfulness’ Hannah Jane Parkinson, Observer
I'd nominate Paper Cuts by Stephen Bernard [as a book of the year]. It's a literary memoir which is unforgettably fleet, stinging and painful.
It is an extraordinary book in its unblinking truthfulness, even more so in its refusal to deny the complexities and ambiguity that follow such childhood trauma. This vivisection is just what we need in the discussion and literature of mental illness and its sources.