Where new writing finds its voice


Emily Berry

We always breakfast with the biographer.
On day one I showed him my grapefruit spoon;
it has a serrated edge. My father gave him
a Mont Blanc fountain pen as a welcome gift,
but I think he was more impressed by the spoon.
‘It’s almost like a knife!’ he said. The biographer
is a coffee nut and I use this fact to bond with him.
‘Oh, Robusta,’ I say dramatically when I know
he’s listening. ‘You inferior bean!’ When we pass 
in the hall I fling my arm back and say things like 
‘Am I strung out or what! Time for another 
caffeine fix, methinks!’ I am not allowed coffee 
because of my nerves, but the biographer doesn’t 
know this. Sometimes we sit up in bed comparing 
moans. Mine are always loudest. The biographer’s
are hampered by his boarding school education
and the British flair for embarrassment. Sometimes 
the publishers call. When he gets on the phone, 
he sweats; afterwards the right side of his face is damp. 
I like to monitor these subtle changes. Last night 
my father found us touching legs. ‘Go to your room!’ 
he shouted. ‘You shabby daughter.’ ‘You worthless 
excuse for a story,’ the biographer added. They played 
cards to settle a debt. That day my mouth felt wetter 
than usual. I asked the biographer to check. He used 
his tongue. ‘This may affect the results,’ he said.