The 99th Monkey – Author Interview – Eliezer Sobel

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Eliezer Sobel joins us today at Paperback Writer. Eliezer is the author of the memoir, The 99th Monkey; A Spiritual Journalist’s Misadventures with Gurus, Messiahs, Sex, Psychedelics, and Other Consciousness-Raising Adventures. Eliezer is also the author of Minyan: Ten Jewish Men in a World that is Heartbroken, which was the winner of the Peter Taylor Prize for the Novel. His story story Mordecai’s Book, won the New Millennium’s First Prize for Fiction and his articles and stories have appeared in numerous magazines and other publications.  He’s visiting with Paperback Writer as part of his virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book Promotion and he will share with us his journey on the road to writing this book and to publication. Grab a cup of coffee and stay for the interview. Leave your comments at the end of this post and you might find yourself a lucky winner of a $50 Amazon gift certificate at the end of the month.

(see details at end of the post)




The 99th Monkey is the story of one man’s utter failure to get enlightened, despite over 30 years of trying. Eliezer Sobel invites readers along on what is both a hilarious and astounding journey through the spiritual, New Age and Human Potential movements of the last 35 years, providing and insider’s view that is at once eye-opening, deeply moving, and completely entertaining.  The 99th Mokey is actually a modern-day hero’s journey that contains its own unique blend of wisdom and insight into what it really means to be a human being. You can Eliezer and his book on the web at




Hi Eliezer.


Welcome to Paperback Writer.


Would you share with us how you came up with the idea for your book?


I spent over 30 years as a professional spiritual seeker, meeting gurus and teachers who claimed to be avatars or messiahs, staying in ashrams and monasteries, attending intensive workshops and long, silent retreats,  spending many months in India and traveling widely elsewhere , and basically being a human guinea pig for countless New Age, human potential and spiritual programs for bettering oneself or getting enlightened. I often went to great extremes in my quest, way off the beaten path, from spending 40 days alone in a small hut on a mountaintop, to taking ancient shamanic potions in the jungles of Brazil in all-night ceremonies.  I’ve lived a rather strange and unusual life, and my friends were constantly telling me to write a book about it, so I did. 


Was it a light bulb moment or something that you thought about for a very long time?


It was a light bulb, but only about 40-watts!  I just sat down one day, having completed a novel (which also eventually got published, called Minyan: Ten Jewish Men in a World That is Heartbroken) and I thought, “Now what?” I had no great inspiration for another novel, and since writing teachers were always advising people to “write what you know,” and since I don’t know much about anything else, I just started telling my own story, which came rather easily.




How did you come up with the title?


There is a phenomenon that has been called  “The “100th Monkey,” which states that once a “critical mass” of people adopt a particular idea or practice, it reaches what today is often called a “tipping point,” causing a paradigm shift to occur in the entire culture.  So once enough people bought iPods, for example, at a certain point they were suddenly everywhere, and now even new cars come with mp3 inputs.

            There has been a lot of talk over the years, particularly in New Age circles, of a shift that is presumably imminent on the planet Earth, some sort of “Golden Era of Peace” that will finally deliver us from the hell realm we are collectively living in at the present time. But the belief is that this will only happen once enough of us wake up and stop merely living our lives for ourselves as individual egos and begin living from a higher, connected, global identity. 

            So my title is tongue-in-cheek:  in order to reach the 100th monkey, obviously, you first need to get the 99th guy on board, which is me, and I have such a long history of resisting enlightenment and change, that basically I am gumming up the works for the whole planet!


How did you find an agent and publisher?


            Actually, my agent chose not to represent this book, believing that memoirs are too hard to sell. So I did it the traditional, hard way: I shelled out $50 for Writer’s Market, sent out dozens of query letters, received a bunch of form letters that said “Thanks but no thanks,” and finally got lucky with Santa Monica Press.


Who reads your work in progress?

            A handful of carefully selected friends who’s opinion I value a great deal. Some are writer’s themselves, some are just very insightful readers. 





Who made a difference in the book’s quality?


            The people I was just referring to offered many good ideas that I used. For example, in the first draft I described in graphic detail an exercise I participated in during a Human Sexuality workshop, called “The Tush-Push.”  My brother insisted I tone it way down since he knew both his daughters and our parents would be reading the book.  So I did.  (Suffice it to say that it was a partner exercise and involved little finger condoms.)


How long did it take you to complete the first draft?

            About a year.


How long did it take from start to publication?

            Ten years.  


Do you have any advice for new authors?


            There is a progressive sequence of rewards in the publishing business. At first, just to be published at all seems like the dream of a lifetime. But although getting published is definitely a great thrill, it is an extremely temporary thrill, after which one must face the impossible and unbearable fact that literally hundreds of thousands of new books are released in the U.S. every year. That has been the hardest thing for me to come to terms with. I get ulcers every time I walk into Barnes and Noble.  Then, even when I do find my own book in Barnes and Noble, (which at one time would have been the next great dream) it’s usually on a back shelf somewhere, and I get very jealous and envious of the authors who have made it to the tables up front.  It’s never-ending. Better to find a way to be satisfied with the process of writing itself than waiting on the signs of external success, unless you’re one of the lucky ones, and we all hope for that.


Thank you, Eliezer, for stopping by Paperback Writer on your virtual book tour. I wish you continued success through the rest of you tour.





The 99th Monkey Virtual Book Tour ’08 officially began on August 4, 2008 and will continues all month. You can visit Eliezer’s tour stops at in August to find out more about (his/her) and (his/her) book.


As a special promotion for all our authors, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour to a published author  with a recent release or a $50 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comment on our authors blog stops. More prizes will be announced as they come available. The winners will be announced on on August 31!


Please leave your comments along the tour stops and join us on August 31 to see if you are a winner.




Eliezer Sobel, The 99th Monkey; A Spiritual Journalist’s Misadventures with Gurus, Messiahs, Sex, Psychedelics, and other Consciousness-Raising Adventures, Pump Up Your Book Promotion, virtual book tours, virtual blog tour, virtual author tour, book spotlights, book reviews, author interviews, online book promotion,








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2 thoughts on “The 99th Monkey – Author Interview – Eliezer Sobel”

  1. So many people seeking enlightenment forget the “lighter” side of wisdom. This is a marvelous treat and escape from all the serious-minded books that abound within the genre. Putting laughter on the line and on par with spiritual enlightenment this book is like watching the Dahli Lama who is all smiles and joyful. It reminds us that spiritual growth is uplifting!

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