Malahat Review volunteer Sarah Androsoff talks with the summer issue #211 contributor about driving for specificity, writing and editing as different disciplines, and the mental contortions required to believe—and then disbelieve—in Armageddon and Paradise in his creative nonfiction piece "The Glow of Electrum."
SA: You say, “Back when I was a Jehovah’s Witness, unable to see beyond the ideological confines of my life, I couldn't have known that my stutter was my ticket out.” Your bio says you’re working on a memoir-in-essays about growing up a Jehovah’s Witness. Will the other essays focus on similar themes (identity, music, stuttering)? Could you tell us more about the project?
DAC: My memoir in essays is about the lifelong act of leaving the Jehovah’s Witnesses. It’s a queer book. During my childhood and adolescence, the end of the world was a tangible place, and I’ve tried to make that vivid for the reader by writing a text as feverish as anything the organization has ever produced. It’s a book of questions. What mental contortions are required to believe—and then disbelieve—in Armageddon and Paradise? Can brainwashing ever be completely undone? If finding escape means finding the language for it, how can I redefine “apocalypse” and other words I’ve tuned out? How did religious shunning ultimately kill two of my friends, and what is the Watch Tower’s accountability in that?
“The Glow of Electrum” is the only essay in the collection that focusses on stuttering, but the assembly of memoir fragments could itself be a giant stutter. The way in which I remembered past events shaped the fluency of the book, and the nonlinear structure influences the reading. At least two other essays in the collection—featuring Michael Jackson and Prince, both former Witnesses—deal in music.
Read the rest of Daniel's interview on TMR's website.