Sex Death Enlightenment: A True Story

“It’s hard to know when you’re having a breakdown in New York City. The symptoms of living here, succeeding here, and losing your mind here are almost identical.” So begins Matousek’s 1996 breakout memoir about leaving a fast-track publishing life (working for pop artist Andy Warhol at Interview Magazine) and hitting the dharma trail in search of a meaningful life and spiritual wisdom. Hailed by Publisher’s Weekly as “brave, beautiful, and brilliantly observed,” Sex Death Enlightenment became an international best seller (published in 10 countries). Like Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat Pray Love and Paul Monette in Borrowed Time, Matousek takes the reader on an insightful, rollicking search for answers to life’s deepest questions in this landmark memoir.
“Mark Matousek takes you everywhere his title promises – and then some. Sex Death Enlightenment is the most gripping and elegantly written memoir I’ve read in ages. It tugged me onward like the best suspense novel, though I couldn’t help lingering time and again to savor its wisdom.

~Armistead Maupin, author of Tales of the City

Praise for Sex Death Enlightenment

“An extraordinarily articulate chronicle of how the sickness of our time can spawn spiritual awakening and compassion.”
-Ram Dass, author of Be Here Now and Grist For the Mill
“Brave, beautiful and brilliantly observed.”
-Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Mark Matousek’s Sex Death Enlightenment is a soul-searching and soul-awakening testament of a genuine spiritual journey for our time. He delves into the deepest parts of the spirit and the flesh, faces the tough questions and problems without flinching, and emerges with faith and insight.”
-Dan Wakefield, author of Returning and New York in the Fifties
“As Mark Matousek’s exhilarating memoir, Sex Death Enlightenment, proves, disgust with and even terror at the hollowness of a life spent manufacturing glitz can send one screaming down the highway toward the holy even faster then doing time in an ashram. That is only the first of many astonishing discoveries available to the openhearted, even those who work at (or read) slick magazines with celebrities on the cover.”
“Mark Matousek tasted the intensity of the surface, the glamour, the unrelenting rush: scratching the surface, he found more surfaces, in an endless, self-reflecting high that finally broke under its own weightlessness, and propelled him, often against his will, on a remarkable journey of spiritual self-discovery. This is the story of that extraordinary journey – from surface to depth, from exterior to interior, a spiritual odyssey that is truly of our time, genuine in its care, redeeming in its grace.”
-Ken Wilber, author of A Brief History of Everything
“Can a man who has been put through the wringer by life…actually write a memoir free of self-pity? Mark Matousek has done it. Even more remarkably, he has written a book about (spiritual) fulfillment without once sounding flaky….you’ll find it hard not to admire a man so determined to find a deeper meaning in a difficult life….Prose that sings….Matousek comes to a realization of life’s wonders in a scene that will leave no reader unmoved.”
-People Magazine
“A mesmerizing account….Utterly down to earth, even inspiring.”
-Kirkus Reviews
“With the speed and brilliance of a meteor….it is bound to elicit comparisons with Robert Pirsig’s amazing 1974 memoir, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, for its narrative of a man seeking his place in the world by attempting to synthesize Western culture and Eastern spirituality…..Almost compulsively readable. His perseverance…and the truce wrested from his struggle – much like the story of Jacob wrestling with the angel – will inspire many readers.”
-Echo Magazine
“This is a candid and courageous account of one man’s search for spiritual meaning – an inspiring book, full of hope.”
-Andrew T. Weil, M.D., author of Spontaneous Healing
“This strangely compelling book opens and opens into unexpected depths. Sex Death Enlightenment is the story of a bold, skeptical, down-to-earth soul willing to be educated by the hardest things in the world, willing to look into the face of despair and death and come up from that black and bitter embrace changed, open-hearted, eager to live.”
-Mark Doty, author of Heaven’s Gate
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