I Felt the End Before It Came: Memoirs of a Queer Ex-Jehovah's Witness (Hardcover)

I Felt the End Before It Came: Memoirs of a Queer Ex-Jehovah's Witness By Daniel Allen Cox Cover Image

I Felt the End Before It Came: Memoirs of a Queer Ex-Jehovah's Witness (Hardcover)

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*SHORTLISTED FOR THE GRAND PRIX DU LIVRE DE MONTREAL*
A PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST BOOK OF 2023

“I spent eighteen years in a group that taught me to hate myself. You cannot be queer and a Jehovah’s Witness—it’s one or the other.”


Daniel Allen Cox grew up with firm lines around what his religion considered unacceptable: celebrating birthdays and holidays, voting in elections, pursuing higher education, and other forays into independent thought. Their opposition to blood transfusions would have consequences for his mother, just as their stance on homosexuality would for him.

But even years after whispers of his sexual orientation reached his congregation’s presiding elder, catalyzing his disassociation, the distinction between “in” and “out” isn’t always clear. Still in the midst of a lifelong disentanglement, Cox grapples with the group’s cultish tactics—from gaslighting to shunning—and their resulting harms—from simmering anger to substance abuse—all while redefining its concepts through a queer lens. Can Paradise be a bathhouse, a concert hall, or a room full of books?

With great candour and disarming self-awareness, Cox takes readers on a journey from his early days as a solicitous door-to-door preacher in Montreal to a stint in New York City, where he’s swept up in a scene of photographers and hustlers blurring the line between art and pornography. The culmination of years spent both processing and avoiding a complicated past, I Felt the End Before It Came reckons with memory and language just as it provides a blueprint to surviving a litany of Armageddons.
DANIEL ALLEN COX is the author of four novels published by Arsenal Pulp Press, and his essays and short fiction have appeared in Catapult, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, and Maisonneuve. His essay “The Glow of Electrum,” which appears in this book, was a finalist for a 2021 National Magazine Award and named a Notable essay in The Best American Essays 2021.
 
Product Details ISBN: 9780735242104
ISBN-10: 0735242100
Publisher: Viking
Publication Date: May 9th, 2023
Pages: 240
Language: English
*SHORTLISTED FOR THE GRAND PRIX DU LIVRE DE MONTREAL*
A PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST BOOK OF 2023

“This is ultimately a story about the struggle to build a life out of ashes with little to no support—about unlearning familial inheritances and forgiving ourselves for our own trespasses. Most of all, it is about learning how to carry on after leaving a community obsessed with finality.”
The Washington Post
 
“Elegant . . . [Cox] 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.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A captivating, richly layered text that dismantles any reductive ideas readers may hold about indoctrination, departures, comings-out, and the practice of memoir-writing itself.”
Montreal Review of Books
 
“A deeply vulnerable and often staggeringly insightful collection of essays.”
—CBC Arts
 
“Cox has turned his gaze outward back onto us after his time out on the avenues, welcoming us to follow his map of how to build a new life when the ones we were born into become too small to contain us.”
Chicago Review of Books
 
“Cox’s memoir is smart, funny, and gripping throughout . . . His meticulous approach to dismantling and overcoming methods of control and manipulation will feel cathartic to many readers.”    
The Florida Review
 
“Daniel Allen Cox is a true writer who can convey complexity with grace. His story inspires us to want to know our own contradictions, to see them as riches instead of shame. In this way our lives become enhanced by both his vulnerability and his gifts.”
—Sarah Schulman, author of Let the Record Show
 
“I know of no better exploration of the psychic costs of gaslighting and shunning, especially on the lives of LGBTQ people. As in all great books, it offers more questions than answers, not to mention its big courageous heart, part tender, part outrageous, part buoyant.”
—Paul Lisicky, author of Later: My Life at the Edge of the World
 
“A hugely entertaining, open-hearted, and insightful memoir that sheds light on what it means to grow up as a Jehovah’s Witness coming to terms with queerness, and how families survive and love one another after being fragmented by divergence of faith . . . a joy to read from start to finish.”
—Heather O’Neill, author of When We Lost Our Heads
 
“A candid and beautiful exploration of learning to save yourself from a fundamentalist childhood and the complications that come from the dizzying freedom after you leave its confines. A vital and unique addition to the queer coming-of-age genre.”
—Zoe Whittall, author of The Fake
 
“In this breathtaking spiritual, sexual, and artistic coming-of-age, Daniel Allen Cox troubles and subverts what it means to seek salvation . . . he takes us on a probing and candid journey to find a new language to think with, and into a new definition of paradise.”
—Sarah Gerard, author of Sunshine State