What Came Before

by Matthew Schultz


The essays in What Came Before say without saying.  Combining and blurring the genres of myth, essay, and poetry, these small works explore subjects as diverse as the death of Moses, the special relationship between gay men and cats, the movie “Titanic,” rock collections, and the afterlife.

“A breath of fresh air, surprising and delightful.” —Aram Saroyan


Format: Paperback

Published: September 2020

ISBN: 978-1-946482-37-2 Category:

“Matthew Schultz’s What Came Before somehow infuses light and lightness into a philosophical and Midrashic quest to understand such agonizing things as oneself, love, God, the Torah, angels, heaven, sex….a vast, quirky book of essays in which we could again believe our own knowledges, wisdoms, and certainties.”

— Sarah Vap

“A breath of fresh air, surprising and delightful.” —Aram Saroyan

Matthew Schultz is a writer of fiction and nonfiction.  His work has been anthologized in Best American Nonrequired Reading, and has been featured in Ecotone Magazine, Fourth Genre, The Common, The Columbia Journal of Arts and Literature, and elsewhere.  Raised in Massachusetts, Schultz graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 2010 and currently lives in Tel Aviv. What Came Before is his first published collection.

Additional information

Weight 0.25 lbs


A fact: Mau is my cat.

An article of faith: Jesus Christ is the Lord and Savior of the world.


Mau and Jesus have this in common: they both embody unconditional love for the whole world.

Caveat: Mau’s world is much smaller than the one in which Jesus lived, and consists only of several surfaces to lie on, a plant to eat, a mix of wet and dry food, and me.


In the beginning was the Word and then the Word became flesh.

The Word was “Mau.”


Mau can sit upright and stare into space for hours.

He is enlightened.

Alternatively: He is stupid.


Sometimes Mau stares out the window. He dreams of the outside world, of a breeze on his face, of sunlight and freedom.

Alternatively: the semiotic language of gesture is fundamentally different for cats than it is for humans, for whom window gazing almost universally implies a melancholic longing. All projections of desire onto a cat are thus as futile as trying to decipher the desires of God.


A fact: I exist.

An article of faith: Mau exists.

An article of faith: God exists.

Alternatively: It is a fact that God and Mau exist, and an article of faith that I do.


The ancient Egyptians regarded their cats as deities.

When asked why I don’t let Mau outside, I answer that it’s for his own good.

Alternatively: Deities, being articles of faith, are a private matter and best left confined to one’s home.