Cohen Bio 'Exquisitely Researched,' 'Elegantly Written'

By Young, Michael E | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 25, 2012 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Cohen Bio 'Exquisitely Researched,' 'Elegantly Written'

Young, Michael E, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Deep inside, Leonard Cohen wrestles with a restless soul.

In "I'm Your Man," rock journalist Sylvie Simmons' exquisitely researched and elegantly written biography, she depicts a man in perpetual motion, hellhound on his trail, living a life filled with turmoil and self-doubt, love, sex and fleeting relationships, spiritual searching and rare moments of peace.

Through it all, Cohen has remained an icon and a unique voice in both literature and music, with his friend Bob Dylan perhaps the only other artist who compares.

Simmons uses almost 600 pages to meticulously trace Cohen's life. And in a refreshing change for a modern biography, she begins at the beginning, with Cohen's birth to a prosperous and proper Jewish family in Montreal. Their affluence, Simmons points out, was relative. After all, the Cohens' chauffeur drove them in a Pontiac, rather than the Cadillacs favored by families farther up the hill.

His mother doted on him, especially after his father's death when Cohen was 9. And even as a teen, he'd leave his house late at night and ramble through the dark streets of the city, knowing that forgiveness waited at home.

Cohen's talents were evident early, and although he was a so-so student at McGill University, he won two literary awards and excelled at debate. With two friends, he formed his first musical group, the Buckskin Boys, and developed in his own idiosyncratic way as a guitar player.

After graduation, Cohen's life shifted to a much faster gear. His first book of poetry garnered good reviews; his second was a flat- out success. Well-dressed and charming -- the word appears repeatedly in the book -- Cohen settled in New York for a time, then Europe, eventually finding himself on the storybook Greek island of Hydra.

The book tells how he finds love and a muse with a Norwegian model and young mother, driving her to Norway at one point for her divorce hearing, but then inviting her and her son to Montreal where he largely ignores her before disappearing completely. He surfaces in Cuba, drawn there by the revolution.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Cohen Bio 'Exquisitely Researched,' 'Elegantly Written'


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?