cover image I Felt the End Before It Came: Memoirs of a Queer Ex-Jehovah’s Witness

I Felt the End Before It Came: Memoirs of a Queer Ex-Jehovah’s Witness

Daniel Allen Cox. Viking Canada, $24.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-7352-4210-4

Novelist Cox (Mouthquake) examines his break with his Jehovah’s Witness upbringing in these elegant essays. The author probes the controlling dynamics of the Watch Tower Society and the complex repercussions of his “disassociation” from the group after he came out as gay via a “breakup letter to Jehovah” mailed to its elders. “A Library for Apostates” reflects on the author’s insecurities about being a writer after growing up in an anti-intellectual Jehovah’s Witness culture (“The group believes that pursuing worldly knowledge takes followers off the road to Paradise”), while “We Are the Ones Held” unpacks his ruinous alcohol addiction and eventual recovery. “The End of Times Square” recounts the author’s 1998 move to New York at age 22, where he befriended photographer David LaChappelle, became involved in pornography and sex work, and anticipated Y2K absent the Armageddon anxieties of his childhood (“The thing about growing up in a doomsday cult is that it’s always the end of the world”). The author approaches his subject with emotional nuance, and writes with a mix of self-aware humor and deep insight that sets his project apart from other former believer memoirs. This thoughtful rendering will captivate those with ties to the religious group and literary memoir fans alike. (May)