The second volume of the extraordinary life of the great music and literary icon Leonard Cohen, 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 the world 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 one of the world’s most cherished artists. 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. This second of three volumes—From This Broken Hill—follows him from the conclusion of his first international music tour in 1971 as he continued to compose poetry, record music, and search for meaning into the late 1980s. The book explores his decade-long relationships with Suzanne Elrod, with whom he had two children, and various other numerous romantic partners, including the beginning of his long relationship with French photographer Dominique Issermann and, simultaneously, a five-year relationship with a woman never previously identified.
It is a challenging time for Cohen. His personal life is in chaos and his career stumbles, so much so that his 1984 album, Various Positions, is rejected by Columbia Records, while other artistic endeavours fail to find an audience. However, this period also marks the start of his forty-year immersion in Zen Buddhism, which would connect him to the legendary Zen master Joshu Sasaki Roshi and inspire some of his most profound and enduring art.
In From This Broken Hill, 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. Honest and entertaining, this is a must-have book for any Cohen fan.
About the author
Michael Posner is an award-winning writer, playwright, and journalist, and the author of nine previous books. These include the bestselling Mordecai Richler biography The Last Honest Man, and the Anne Murray biography All of Me, as well as the first two books in the Leonard Cohen, Untold Stories series, The Early Years, Vol. 1 and From This Broken Hill, Vol. 2. He was Washington Bureau Chief for Maclean’s magazine, and later served as its national, foreign, and assistant managing editor. He was also managing editor of the Financial Times of Canada for three years. He later spent sixteen years as a senior writer with The Globe and Mail (Toronto).
“In the words of some of the people who knew Leonard Cohen best—and with important testimonies never heard before—Posner allows us a fascinating plunge into the tumult and passion of Leonard Cohen’s 1970s and 1980s. We see his life and endless quest for love unfold at fast pace and get an incredible glimpse into the furnace of the two decades that gave Cohen some of his best songs. This is essential reading for anyone with an interest in Cohen the artist, the seeker, and the man.”
— CHRISTOPHE LEBOLD, author of Leonard Cohen: L'homme qui voyait tomber les anges
“The life of Leonard Cohen—poet, novelist, artist, Zen monk, and oh, yes, singer-songwriter—is too vast to be contained within one book. Thankfully, Posner is giving us three. . . . Posner draws on hundreds of interviews to explore Cohen’s private and public lives, his complexities and contradictions, and, of course, his inarguable charisma. Serve yourself some tea and oranges and settle in.”
Praise for Leonard Cohen, Untold Stories: The Early Years, Vol. 1
A Globe and Mail Top 100 Book of 2020
“Posner undertook dozens and dozens of interviews . . . creating a unique oral history, as if they’re in a room together, sharing memories and stories. . . . They’re linked together with a light narrative voice that gives this biography a very intimate and personal feel.”
— Toronto Star
“Sex, drugs, and poetry permeate this oral history of Leonard Cohen. . . . This book offers a seductive blend of sometimes contradictory insights.”
— Library Journal
Praise for Leonard Cohen, Untold Stories: From This Broken Hill, Vol. 2
“This is a great read of unparalleled intimacy as Cohen’s fellow travelers recall encounters, conversations, projects, concerts, trips, and affairs—the quotes interspersed with Posner’s contextual bridges, which strengthen the book’s narrative. . . . The second volume has an even more intimate feel with its rich detail.”
— The Senior Times
“The chorus speaks but not in unison, and yet their many voices do work to conjure a thing almost magical: the feeling that you have all but met Leonard Cohen and know what he’s like. . . . The great pleasure of Posner’s volumes is they make room for all of these notions and set them in opposition."
— The Washington Free Beacon
“A multi-layered, mosaic portrait of one of the most legendary—and most complex—writers and musicians that Canada has ever produced. . . . Thanks to Michael Posner and the more than 550 people he interviewed for this project, we get a much better, humanistic understanding at what drove the talented enigma that was Leonard Cohen.”
— The Montreal Times
“Posner masterfully weaves an abundance of interviews with Cohen’s family, friends, and myriad lovers to create an intricate tapestry and, ultimately, produces the most revealing portrait of the legendary songwriter and wordsmith to date.”
— NICHOLAS JENNINGS, journalist and bestselling author of Lightfoot