“…a magnificent portrait of how human friendship and amity surrounds all of us…”
This second volume of Posner’s masterly life of Leonard Cohen reveals to the reader the emotional psychodynamics that encompassed the creation of some of the Twentieth Century’s finest lyric poetry. The author’s unique documentary style of writing delivers wonderful veracity and verve to the narrative. Leonard is portrayed—via the unusual medium of rapportage, which is akin to cinéma verité—as a poet who worked in the genre of the mediaeval troubadour, one whose mimetic passion and impetus were driven by an essential and repetitive experience of the feminine. Yet there is a constant tone of intimate desperation in these vivid accounts, of human consciousness struggling to be free of its natural emptiness. Leonard’s singular ability was to transform his mortal ordeal into a vital agency where genius was sometimes achieved. This book tells of that intoxication, the compulsive sexuality and mysticism that impelled the poetry of the songs, and it reveals some of the beliefs that informed his endless performance. It is also a magnificent portrait of how human friendship and amity surrounds all of us, without relent. Posner is a gifted biographer and this perfectly deliberative book—The Ballad of Leonard Cohen—is an accomplished work of literary expertise, research, and devotion.
Kevin McGrath is an Associate of the Department of South Asian Studies at Harvard University. His research centers on the Sanskrit epic Mahabharata; he has published six works on this topic, The Sanskrit Hero, Stri, Jaya, Heroic Krsna, Arjuna Pandava, and Raja Yudhisthira (forthcoming), and is presently concluding a study of the authoritative hero Bhisma.
About the Book
The extraordinary life of one of the world’s greatest music and literary icons, in the words of those who knew him best.
Poet, novelist, singer-songwriter, artist, prophet, icon—there has never been a figure like Leonard Cohen. He was a true giant in contemporary western culture, entertaining and inspiring people everywhere with his work. From his groundbreaking and bestselling novels, The Favourite Game and Beautiful Losers, to timeless songs such as “Suzanne,” “Dance Me to the End of Love,” and “Hallelujah,” Cohen is a cherished artist. His death in 2016 was felt around the world by the many fans and followers who would miss his warmth, humour, intellect, and piercing insights.
Leonard Cohen, Untold Stories chronicles the full breadth of his extraordinary life. The first of three volumes—The Early Years—follows him from his boyhood in Montreal to university, and his burgeoning literary career to the world of music, culminating with his first international tour in 1970.
Through the voices of those who knew him best—family and friends, colleagues and contemporaries, rivals, business partners, and his many lovers—the book probes deeply into both Cohen’s public and private life. It also paints a portrait of an era, the social, cultural, and political revolutions that shook the 1960s.
In this revealing and entertaining first volume, bestselling author and biographer Michael Posner draws on hundreds of interviews to reach beyond the Cohen of myth and reveal the unique, complex, and compelling figure of the real man.
In the Human Frame
Posner coaxes a clear and engaging narrative out of interview excerpts arrayed like a script. …this was frankly great pandemic reading, filled with crowded rooms, new people, even soirées.
A review of books by Gordon Phinn
Posner’s gargantuan contribution to Cohen studies will remain unmatched for many a year.
The Various Positions of Leonard Cohen
At its best, this Babel of voices is ultimately unifying, producing a multiplicity of impressions that stack into one larger meta portrait…
The 20 books you need to read this winter
If Cohen’s your man and you’re his fan, you’ll want this book
Leonard Cohen, Untold Stories
Bestselling author and biographer Michael Posner draws on hundreds of interviews to reach beyond the Cohen of myth and reveal the unique, complex, and compelling figure of the real man.
Pop culture gets its due
A unique oral history…linked together with a light narrative voice that gives this biography a very intimate and personal feel.
The extraordinary life of one of the world’s greatest music and literary icons
Through the voices of those who knew him best–family and friends, colleagues and contemporaries, rivals, business partners, and his many lovers the book probes deeply into both Cohen’s public and private life. It also paints a portrait of an era, the social, cultural, and political revolutions that shook the 1960s.
Best music books of 2020
It covers his early life via a myriad of fascinating interviewees, from rabbis to lovers.
Fifteen music books that struck a chord in 2020
Anecdotes abound – when asked why he was so skinny, a young Cohen replied: “You’d be thin too if you lived on seaweed and amphetamines.”
The life and music of Leonard Cohen
I’ll bet that after working your way through the biography you’ll listen to his songs with different ears.
5 books for music lovers
A three-dimensional image of Cohen as a sexually magnetic, manipulative dreamer emerges.
Fresh stories illuminate a complex troubadour
Though largely sympathetic to its subject, the book shows Cohen, warts and all, including his copious drug use and chronic philandering.
Leonard Cohen’s early years told through hundreds of voices
The oral biography gives readers a fuller depiction of Cohen, as seen through the eyes of the people that were most affected by his presence.
A true giant in contemporary western culture
It paints a portrait of an era, the social, cultural, and political revolutions that shook the 1960s.