Leonard Cohen, Untold Stories: That’s How the Light Gets In, Vol. 3

S. & S. Dec. 2022. 496p. ISBN 9781982176921. $35. MUSIC
The final volume of Posner’s (The Early Years, Vol. 1; From This Broken Hill, Vol. 2.) biography of Canadian singer-poet Cohen covers the last 30 years of his life, from the late 1980s to his death in 2016 at age 82. It starts with his career back on track: full houses in Europe and record releases. When Cohen’s manager dies, he hires his assistant to replace him. Seventeen years later, Cohen finds himself in a battle over $5 million missing from his accounts. It turns into a blessing, though: he returns to work to refill his coffers. Chronically depressed, Cohen turns to Zen Buddhism for relief—but remains a practicing Jew—spending five years in retreat with aged Zen master Roshi (later involved in a sex scandal). Cohen was an inveterate womanizer and, however engaging in interactions with people, fled intimacy. The book is told through interviews, paragraph-long snippets tied together by Posner’s narrative. It’s an engaging approach at first but eventually becomes repetitive: too many present the same portrait of Cohen and his last, heartbreaking days.
VERDICT Readers’ tolerance for this book will depend on how they feel about its subject, but Cohen has an enormous amount of fans.
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