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 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 third and final volume in biographer Michael Posner’s sweeping series of Cohen’s life—That’s How the Light Gets In—explores the last thirty years of his life, starting with the late 1980s revival of his music career with the successful albums I’m Your Man and The Future. It covers the death of his manager, Marty Machat, and the appointment of another who would ultimately be accused of stealing more than five million dollars from Cohen.
Personally, Cohen suffers the traumatic end of his long relationship with French photographer Dominique Issermann and begins a public romance with actress Rebecca De Mornay. When that relationship ends in 1993, as Cohen is about to turn sixty years old, he begins a deeply spiritual phase, entering the Mount Baldy monastery under the tutelage of Zen master Joshu Sasaki Roshi—arguably the most important relationship in Cohen’s life. Ever the seeker, he then goes to Mumbai in 1999, the first of half a dozen trips to India to investigate Advaita Vedanta Hinduism, expanding his growing fascination with spirituality.
In 2008, Cohen makes his triumphant return to the concert stage, and for five years travels the world in an extraordinary final act of his life, giving almost four hundred performances over three continents. The book provides the first full chronicle of Cohen’s final months, fighting debilitating disease, while still creating three new studio albums, adding to his remarkable legacy.
Cohen’s story is told through the voices of those who knew him best—family and friends, colleagues and contemporaries, business partners and lovers. Bestselling author Michael Posner draws on hundreds of interviews to reveal the unique, complex, and compelling figure of the man The New York Times called “a secular saint.” This is a book like no other, about a man like no other.
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).
“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
“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
Praise for Leonard Cohen, Untold Stories: The Early Years, Vol. 1
“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
“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.”