"‍Leonard ‍Cohen‍’‍s complexities and contradictions are brought to life in a definitive new biography" (LA Times Book Review)

September 12, 2012

I didn't get around to reading my morning paper yesterday until late evening. Imagine my surprise and delight to find Leonard Cohen's photo prominently featured in the Calendar section of the Los Angeles Times.

The LA Times is a class newspaper but I also find it is very snooty i.e., it rarely mentions Leonard Cohen, a resident of LA for gosh sakes, never mind featuring him.

Although the book review is derived from the publisher's usual press release, the assignment of an eminent reviewer, August Brown to present the feature, made this book review extra special for me.

The newspaper book review is reproduced below.

His music, and more
‍Leonard ‍Cohen‍’‍s complexities and contradictions are brought to life in a definitive new biography.

I’m Your Man: The Life of ‍Leonard ‍Cohen”

 Sylvie Simmons
 Ecco: $27.99,
 publication date Sept.18
 One challenge of assessing ‍Leonard ‍Cohen‍’‍s musical legacy is that there’s so much non-musical stuff to unpack. From his vast body of literary work to his religious triangulation — Jewish by birth, artistically obsessed with Christian imagery and later ordained as a Buddhist ‍monk‍—‍Cohen‍’‍smusicisjust one facet of a creative and inner life in which each element could warrant its own book treatment.
Sylvie Simmons’ “I’m Your Man” tries to synthesize all these stories into a new gold standard of ‍Cohen bios. She’s given similar treatments to Serge Gainsbourg and Neil Young, but this might be her densest source material yet. In it, she goes deep into his Montreal upbringing, his writing process and the slow burn of his musical prowess and rise to fame.
But “I’m Your Man” also gives considerable credence to ‍Cohen‍’‍s creative writing as a major part of his life’s catalog. And though it’s easy to scoff at rock stars’ post-fame religious conversions — see Bob Dylan’s late-career Christianity — Simmons’ book takes ‍Cohen‍’‍s contradictory interests in Jewish tradition, Buddhist dispassion and Christian myth as part of a larger creative and philosophical architecture that seeps into every corner of his varied works.


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LC Biographer Sylvie Simmons & FRIEND Maarten Massa
 at the Leonard Cohen Madison Event 2012
(photo: Ken Kurzweill)

See also my earlier post, "Sylvie Simmons Reads Poignant Excerpt From Her Leonard Cohen Bio about So Long, Marianne at Madison Event"  click here

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