by Mark Matousek ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 2, 1996
A professional glamour hound ditches his thankless career in magazine journalism and goes on a circuitous quest for spiritual comfort in this surprisingly engrossing, cant-free memoir. As a prized writer and editor at Andy Warhol's Interview magazine in the mid-'80s, Matousek hobnobbed with celebrities. But after a few years he began to feel oppressed by the shallow, glittery milieu. He gives a mesmerizing account of the horrifically dysfunctional upbringing that underpinned his malaise: a promiscuous, unstable mother, a father who abandoned the family when the author was four, one sister a suicide, another immensely, miserably overweight, a third mildly crippled and self-loathing. After a stint as a teen hustler, he made it through college and to Andy's Factory. As AIDS continually came closer to Matousek's life, grief and fear were added to his ennui. Finally a British novelist and all-around spiritual prod named Alexander Maxwell recognized Matousek's discontent and dragged him off to India, where he began an ongoing struggle with questions of faith and spiritual practice. Matousek writes matter-of-factly about his intensely unsettling experiences with trances, visions, and the mystical energy of certain gurus, and he is persuasive when relating his trouble relinquishing doubt. The chief distinction of Matousek's spiritual journey is the harrowing background against which it is set: The traumas of his childhood and the surreal sufferings of his friends with AIDS suggest a less hallucinatory echo of David Wojnarowicz's work, as if Wojnarowicz had exchanged his prophet's fury for optimism. Matousek describes his puzzled fascination as he came to terms with both his submerged capacity for sadism and the realization that he'd been the victim of childhood incest; he suggests that all the truths that he has embraced since his quest started have been stepping stones to spiritual enlightenment. The surprise is that Matousek can get away with such New Age musings and make them seem utterly down to earth, even inspiring.
Pub Date: April 2, 1996
Page Count: 288
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1996
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