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Sex, Death, Enlightenment: A True Story Hardcover – March 19, 1996


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 261 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead; 1st edition (March 19, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573220329
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573220323
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #796,163 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An edgy, no-holds-barred, post-modern memoir that moves with ease from the gritty details of a harrowing childhood, to the soulless meanderings of a young man "making it" in New York City, to the soaring search for meaning.

From Publishers Weekly

Death inspires a hip young New Yorker to quest for spiritual life in this searing memoir. During a vacation in Jamaica in the mid-1980s, Matousek realized that his life was about to undergo a cataclysm. At 28, he was an editor at the chic Manhattan magazine Interview. Yet despite success, he was sickened by the meaninglessness of his work; the sight of the magazine's founder, Andy Warhol, "ghostlike, his sharp dead eyes surveying his kingdom," did little to ease his soul. As Matousek and a college friend lazed on the beach, the author saw on his friend's foot a purple spot, a symptom of AIDS. Suddenly, Matousek "knew without question that the virus was in me"?and that "there was not a minute to waste." He determined to gain a glimmer of enlightenment before he died. A guiding angel arrived in the form of Alexander Maxwell, a handsome young writer. The two became lovers, and Maxwell took Matousek to India, with a detour to Germany to meet Mother Meera, a young woman believed by many to be an incarnation of the Goddess. Through the subsequent decade of pain and quest also chronicled in this brave, beautiful and brilliantly observed work, Matousek never forgot her. Finally, he returned to Germany, where he found from Mother Meera confirmation that his own life is the only real path he has ever needed. Author tour.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

I was born in Los Angeles on February 5, 1957, graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1979, and received a fellowship to Worcester College, Oxford, the following year, with an M.A. in English Literature from the UCLA in 1981.

After graduation, I moved to New York, where I worked as a stringer for Reuters, International, then in Newsweek Magazine's letter department, before being hired as a proofreader at Andy Warhol's Interview Magazine. I was the magazine's first staff writer, and became senior editor the following year, conducting hundreds of interviews with figures well known in film, television, books, fine art, politics, design and science. In 1985, I quit my job and spent most of following decade as an itinerant dharma bum and freelance journalist, traveling between Europe, India, and the United States. Shifting professional gears from pop culture to psychology, philosophy and religion, I was a contributing editor to Common Boundary Magazine, where my back page column, The Naked Eye, appeared from 1994-1999. I received a National Magazine Award nomination for "America's Darkest Secret" (about the epidemic of incest in the U.S.) and published essays in numerous magazines, including The New Yorker, Details, O: The Oprah Magazine, Tricycle, The Utne Reader, AARP Magazine, Out, Good Housekeeping, and Harper's Bazaar.

After working with Sogyal Rimpoche on The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, I collaborated with religious writer Andrew Harvey on Dialogues With A Modern Mystic (interviewing Harvey for Britain's Channel One documentary of the same name). My first book, Sex Death Enlightenment: A True Story (1996) became an international bestseller published in ten countries and nominated for two Books for a Better Life Awards. Having served as co-editor on Ram Dass's book, Still Here, I published my second memoir in 2000, The Boy He Left Behind: A Man's Search for His Lost Father (Los Angeles Times Discovery Book, Randy Shilts Award, excerpted in the Sunday supplement of the London Guardian). I've taught creative non-fiction writing at Manhattanville College and published essays in numerous anthologies, including Wrestling With the Angel, Voices of the Millenium, A Memory, A Monologue, a Rant and a Prayer, Oprah's Best Life. I am also a contributing editor to O: The Oprah Magazine, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review and a frequent blogger for The Huffington Post. My most recent book is When You're Falling, Dive: Lessons in the Art of Living (2008). Also, I'm collaborating with Eve Ensler as the Creative Director of V-Men (the male arm of VDay, Ensler's organization for ending violence against women and girls) and curate their online essay series (www.vday.com). Currently, I am at work on a performance piece called "Ten Ways To Be a Man," which will serve as V-Men's artistic vehicle and will premier in September, 2011.
Ethical Wisdom: What Makes Us Good is available now.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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An easy and entertaining way to narrate a story of coming into the light.
maria
First, the book is so absorbing, I can't put it down and the quality of the book is good and all that I need.
Steve Atit Marmer
This book put "Whatever it takes to break your heart and wake you up is grace".
michigan jean

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 11, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I'd repeat everything I've read in previous reviews. Suffice it to say that I've dog-earred just about every page, and will give this book to many, many friends. Mark's story is truly ripe for our time -- and he shows, without a doubt(!), that it *is* possible for us jaded moderns to shuck our numbing cynicism and embrace the entire, glorious, terrifying mess of our lives and move into true enlightenment, which is simply to say "Yes!" to the whole chaotic, unavoidable journey, and to know in our bones that we are loved, and capable of loving, beyond the cage of ego and fear.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By michigan jean on February 21, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I didn't want to like this book. I didn't want to like a guy who had such low sexual morals and I sure didn't want to like a guy who would re-tell those sexual encounters so graphically. But like Mark I do. This is a really moving book with profound insights. I've read two of his books now and each one has left a quote on my refrigerator. This book put "Whatever it takes to break your heart and wake you up is grace". Wow! I read that and had to put the book down. What an interesting way to look at heartbreak and despair. This book is inspirational but probably too far out there for most people to "get".
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By contestd@ride.ri.net on August 12, 1997
Format: Hardcover
Spiritual seekers, those trying to break through the residue of abusive and traumatic childhoods, any reader whose mind and heart gravitate toward truth, dignity, and healing love in all its guises will find inspiration and encouragement in Mark's writing. I read it twice this summer and am in the process of passing it on to everyone I care about
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 29, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Mark Matousek is a brave man and a generous heart. This true story of his tragic childhood, his escape into trading/selling his body for semblances of love, his entry into the chaos of the corporate world of New York with all the attendant singes of dermal pain and empty heart, his jogging into AIDS territory personally and in the loss of loved ones.......all of this journey must have been difficult to tell. But then he begins his odyssey of finding spiritual enlightenment and everything written before appears as preparation for his enlightenment. That Matousek writes well is a given here, and has been further substantiated in his subsequent books (like The Boy He Left Behind), and because of his finely honed skills this book steps beyond the too frequently published "self-help genre". SEX DEATH ENLIGHTENMENT could easily be a novel, so interesting and beautifully developed are all the characters at play here. The fact that this is one man's true journey toward entry into the spiritual world just makes it that much more engrossing. Though once on the bestsellar lists around the world, it seems that there should be a word of mouth compaign to bring people back (and find new readers) to this very special book. This writer has given us what really could be the discovery of a truely brave new world. Recommended as an inspiring guide to those who seek to truly know life and the connectedness of us all.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Renée Duncan, Author on October 22, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
I approached Sex Death Enlightenment with both fascination and trepidation.

As the in-house editor at a hip graphic design firm in the 1980s, I recall how staff coveted every new issue of Andy Warhol's Interview. But even working in what felt like a center of the 'alt' cultural universe, Toronto's Queen Street West, I just didn't get it. Warhol's 'work' was all cribbed surfaces and celebrated vapidity, his persona a hellish vortex. So it's amazing that author Mark Matousek, who for a time thrived in Warhol's Manhattan madhouse, survived for something better.

What a thread of grace it is that runs through Matousek's life. Even as he was searching, either slumming around or slowly etching away at the terrible family dynamic from which he came, there was another deeply alive bit of soul that would be pulled up and redeemed. At each juncture where he betrays himself, he is more and more leavened, broken open to possibility. And as the hubris drains away, a beautiful humility begins to shine through.

I loved Sex, Death, Enlightenment. I loved the fearless honesty with which the author relays his journey. His ups and downs, the agonies before the epiphanies are heroic, his transcendent moments, glorious. And he pays grateful tribute to those relationships that helped him along. My only caveat is that some readers might be squeamish about the more graphic sex bits, which jar one away from the subtler tone of the narrative, but this is a small complaint about a compelling read. [...]
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Format: Kindle Edition
A fantastic book that draws you in farther the more that you read. I am not a religious person whatsoever, but I received so much out of this book. A must read!!!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
First, the book is so absorbing, I can't put it down and the quality of the book is good and all that I need.
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