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 winner of the RES English Essay Prize (2008), editor of The Literary Correspondences of the Tonsons (Oxford, 2015) which won the 2017 MLA Morton N Cohen Award for a Distinguished Edition of Letters, editor of The Plays and Poems of Nicholas Rowe, five vols. (London, 2016), and reviews for the Times Literary Supplement. Paper Cuts is his first and only experiment in autobiography.
‘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 tests the bounds of what a memoir can achieve. Living 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 literally 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. The result is painful, unique and inspiring.