A voluminous account of Leonard Cohen as pained artist and superseducer. For die-hard fans only.

LEONARD COHEN, UNTOLD STORIES

An exhaustive oral history of the Canadian icon, focusing on his sexual escapades.

Many of the stories in Canadian journalist Posner's lengthy book appeared in Sylvie Simmons' acclaimed 2012 biography of Leonard Cohen (1934-2016), I'm Your Man. But Posner certainly turned over a lot of stones in his quest to come up with fresh stories about the great songwriter and poet. Drawing from more than 500 firsthand sources, the author chronicles Cohen’s privileged boyhood in Montreal, his literary life at McGill University, and his career-making meeting with "Suzanne" interpreter Judy Collins. Though Posner touches on Cohen's love-hate relationship with his mother, his insecurities as a singer, and his brushes with LSD, Scientology, Bob Dylan, depression, and guns, the author seems most interested in keeping score of the number of women this prolific romancer bedded—and then documented in his songs. Though Posner frequently uses the terms "decency," "honesty," and "warmth" to describe Cohen, they don't always apply to his treatment of women. During his epic, on-and-off affair with Marianne Ihlen, which stretched from the Greek island of Hydra to New York, he forced her into having as many as five abortions, according to folk artist Julie Felix. "There were few 18-year-old women that Cohen failed to seduce, including virgins,” writes Posner. Adds Carol Zemel, a distinguished art historian who was a friend of Cohen's from the 1960s, "The womanizing was intense. It drove me crazy over the years. And all the men around him were treated to the women, whether they were married men or not." Such revelations could taint the image of the courtly gentleman that Cohen created for himself in his twilight years—and lower expectations for Volume 2 of this long-winded project.

A voluminous account of Leonard Cohen as pained artist and superseducer. For die-hard fans only.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-5263-5

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Dry and repetitious in places, Murakami’s gentle encouragement will appeal to hesitant novice writers.

NOVELIST AS A VOCATION

The acclaimed novelist opens up about his methods and how he creates his own private worlds.

In a series of self-deprecating, introspective essays, six previously published, five written for this book, Murakami shares his modest views on writing. The fact that he has been able “to write novels as a profession…continues to amaze me.” He begins with generalities: what qualities successful novelists possess and how they are able to sustain them. The author recounts how, at 29, married, attending school and struggling to keep his jazz cafe afloat, he was outside watching a baseball game, and “based on no grounds whatsoever, it suddenly struck me: I think I can write a novel.” He wrote his first novel—later to become Hear the Wind Sing—in rudimentary English, “a rough, uncultivated kind of prose.” He then “transplanted” it into Japanese in a “creative rhythm distinctly my own,” finding the “coolest chords, trusting in the power of improvisation.” Murakami believes his jazzy literary originality, voice, and style were born then. Even today, he doesn’t experience writer’s block. Words come out in a joyful “spontaneous flow” as his narratives grow lengthier and more complex. After dismissing the significance of literary prizes, he advises young writers to read numerous novels, good and bad, as he did growing up, observe the world around them, and draw upon their memories. Essays are “no more than sidelines, like the cans of oolong tea marketed by beer companies.” Stories are like “practice pieces.” When he composes his novels, he limits himself to 10 pages per day; then his wife reads it, and he makes countless revisions—“I have a deep-rooted love for tinkering.” Novelists require stamina, which Murakami gets from one of his favorite pastimes: running. Over time, he gradually began writing more in third person, creating more named characters and “simultaneously being created by the novel as well.” He doesn’t comment much on his own works nor those of others.

Dry and repetitious in places, Murakami’s gentle encouragement will appeal to hesitant novice writers.

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-451-49464-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 23, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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