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Book of Longing [Hardcover]

Leonard Cohen


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Book Description

April 25 2006
Leonard Cohen is one of the great writers, performers, and most consistently daring artists of our time. Book of Longing is Cohen’s eagerly awaited new collection of poems, following his highly acclaimed 1984 title, Book of Mercy, and his hugely successful 1993 publication, Stranger Music, a Globe and Mail national bestseller. Book of Longing contains erotic, playful, and provocative line drawings and artwork on every page, by the author, which interact in exciting and unexpected ways on the page with poetry that is timeless, meditative, and at times darkly humorous. The book brings together all the elements that have brought Leonard Cohen’s artistry with language worldwide recognition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: McClelland & Stewart; 1 edition (April 25 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0771022344
  • ISBN-13: 978-0771022340
  • Product Dimensions: 2.2 x 15.2 x 23.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 454 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #309,955 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Renowned singer-songwriter Cohen also boasts a reputation as a writer for the printed page, especially in his native Canada. This capacious collection (his first since 1993's Stranger Music) compiles musings, jottings, quatrains, brief lyrics, prose meditations and offhand epigrams, along with Cohen's ink drawings and work in his own handwriting. The melancholy Cohen displays both a surface humility and an underlying self-confidence as he reflects on women (as when recalling his seduction of "the most beautiful girl/ on the religious left"), Zen doctrine, his own advancing age (Cohen turned 70 two years ago) and the legacy of the '60s. Many poems feel like his song lyrics: "Sometimes just a list/ Of my events/ Is holier than the Bill of Rights/ And more intense." The volume will get a boost from Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man, a documentary scheduled for theatrical release. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Review

“[Book of Longing] is not so much an illustrated collection of poems as it is a shaped autobiography.”
— Globe and Mail

“It reaffirms Cohen’s mastery in the domain of desire, and devotees will not be disappointed.”
— Austin Chronicle

“Tenderness may have replaced passion, but Cohen’s ability to capture this shift makes it poignant and meaningful. . . . Cohen has taken what his friend Irving Layton called ‘the inescapable lousiness of growing old’ and has given it, in its waning days, a profound romantic dignity.”
— Montreal Gazette

“He’s shown an uncanny knack for expressing the changing Zeitgeist.”
— Toronto Star


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  63 reviews
114 of 117 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Action and Contemplation, Cigarettes and Asceticism, Clutching Fast and Letting Go May 31 2006
By Andrew Schonbek - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
These are just some of the themes explored by Leonard Cohen in this very excellent volume of verse.

But hold on - how do cigarettes qualify as a theme? Well perhaps they don't quite make it to the thematic level, but they do put in enough appearances to be seen as noteworthy.

Here is an excerpt from a poem entitled "The Cigarette Issue":

But what is exactly the same
is the promise, the beauty
and the salvation
of cigarettes
the little Parthenon
of an unopened pack of cigarettes

and Mumbai, like the Athens
of forty years ago
is a city to smoke in

Cohen manages to weave a smoke into his deft handling of the tension and attraction of opposites in "What Did It", which follows in its entirety...

An acquaintance told me
that the great sage
Nisargadatta Maharaj
Once offered him a cigarette,
"Thank you, sir, but I don't smoke."
"Don't smoke?" said the master,
"What's life for?"

And so it goes, dealing with life and death, love and lust, spirit and truth, and the path the author has walked in his quest for God, or G-d, as he chooses reverentially to refer to him.

While Cohen's wry humor and self deprecating detachment are at times in evidence, some verses are almost terrifying in their seriousness and immediacy. The following is from "By the Rivers Dark" which makes up the lyrics of a song by the same name on the excellent CD "Ten New Songs"...

then he struck my heart
with a deadly force
and he said, "This heart
it is not yours."

Interspersed throughout the volume is a series of self portraits of the artist as an apparently angst filled old man, juxtaposed against his arresting sketches of a number of exceedingly voluptuous women.

But in the end this is a wistful book and it is appropriate that it is entitled "Book of Longing".

Here is "Nightingale", in its entirety:

I built my house beside the wood
So I could hear you singing
And it was sweet and it was good
And love was all beginning

Fare thee well my nightingale
`Twas long ago I found you
Now all your songs of beauty fail
The forest closes `round you

The sun goes down behind a veil
`Tis now that you would call me
So rest in peace my nightingale
Beneath your branch of holly

Fare thee well my nightingale
I lived but to be near you
Though you are singing somewhere still
I can no longer hear you
75 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Confessional poetry and writings from a wise and humorous soul.... May 30 2006
By Laurie Eckhout - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is Leonard Cohen. You get tongue-in-cheek self portraits dispersed amongst words that are sometimes funny, sometimes shocking, sometimes brilliant observations and sometimes self depricating honesty that reveals the always human-ness and always unique voice of this living legend of a song writer, writer and poet, Mr. Leonard Cohen.

This guy is Interesting with a capital "I." Reason enough to check out his long awaited book of poems, drawings and essays. Another reason is that unlike most books of poetry it is 'entertaining' without sacrificing intelligence. His wry humour is laugh out loud funny in the the short essay, "The Luckiest Man in the World" and poems such as, "Never Once."

He speaks of things that matter to him: his teacher, Roshi, pine trees, G-d, women, sex, laughter, mists, women and most of all from what I see the unending mystery of "self" (and women). When that self is Leonard Cohen it is worth stopping what you are doing and reading what he has to say.

Then, if you are not familiar with Cohen's music, you are missing some of the best written lyrics and music, ever.

Enjoy,

Laurie
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book of Longing, by Leonard Cohen March 8 2007
By Anne T. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
For anyone who loves Leonard Cohen's music, this book is a wonderful collection of poems, drawings, images, rants, recollections and celebrations. Some of the material is in the film called Leonard Cohen/I'm Your Man, and like the songs, the book speaks of love and loss, pain and sorrow in his inimitable, elliptical style. Fun to read and easy to pick up and put down at any point.
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cohen's still got it June 30 2006
By Mr. Reinaldo Garcia - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Cohen calls himself "a competent minor poet." He's right. But minor competence these days is a supreme thing. Cohen is wry, profound, and always surprising. His humility never cloys. He means what he says, even when he's kidding. The illustrations, by the way, add much to the reader's experience.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Cohen Nov. 5 2006
By F. W. Macneill - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Okay, it's a mixed bag, like most of Cohen's work - ranging from the confusing and chaotic through to the sublime. It's a bit like the curate's egg, only the other way around, in that it's mostly good, and even the bad bits are still pretty good. For me, part of the pleasure of Cohen is precisely the chaotic mass of material, from which many gems emerge, glowing into the strange half-light of Cohen's percetions and vision.

It's also filled with fundamental material for those with an interest in Cohen's life, evolving 'philosophies' and emerging opus.
ARRAY(0xb8dde7b0)

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