Paper Cuts

Paper Cuts

A Memoir


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’
Henry Marsh

‘Distinguished and desolating… The saving grace is the writer’s undaunted eye for the beauty of the world’
Hilary Mantel

‘Chilling, riveting, extraordinary, wonderful’
Roddy Doyle

‘It is an extraordinary book in its unblinking truthfulness’ Hannah Jane Parkinson, Observer


  • Jesus - what a book. Chilling, riveting, extraordinary, wonderful - I’m trying to think of the words to describe this book but none of them do it justice.
    Roddy Doyle

About the author

Stephen Bernard

Stephen Bernard is an English academic at the University of Oxford and formerly a British Academy Post-doctoral Research Fellow and Junior Research Fellow of University College, Oxford. He is the editor of The Literary Correspondences of the Tonsons and The Plays and Poems of Nicholas Rowe, and reviews for the Times Literary Supplement. Paper Cuts is his first and only experiment in autobiography.
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