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Leonard Cohen, Untold Stories: The Early Years

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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 people everywhere 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 a cherished artist. 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. The first of three volumes—The Early Years—follows him from his boyhood in Montreal to university, and his burgeoning literary career to the world of music, culminating with his first international tour in 1970.

Through the voices of those who knew him best—family and friends, colleagues and contemporaries, rivals, business partners, and his many lovers—the book probes deeply into both Cohen’s public and private life. It also paints a portrait of an era, the social, cultural, and political revolutions that shook the 1960s.

In this revealing and entertaining first volume, 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.

Michael Posner is an award-winning writer, playwright, journalist, and the author of seven books. These include the Mordecai Richler biography, The Last Honest Man, and the Anne Murray biography, All of Me, both of which were national bestsellers. 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.

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

“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.”

“Through these stories, a unique portrait of a young Leonard Cohen is revealed, with insights into not only his extraordinary life but also his timeless poetry and music.”
—?ANNE MURRAY, Grammy Award–winning singer

“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

“Out of a welter of stories—from those who encountered Leonard Cohen?as associate, friend, or lover—Michael Posner has shaped a fascinating?multi-faceted portrait. Posner is indeed Cohen’s Boswell, no doubt about it.”
—?SEYMOUR MAYNE, poet, editor, and translator

“Posner masterfully weaves the story of the iconic musician’s life through hundreds of interviews with the people who knew him best, including family members, business partners, and lovers alike.”

“Sex, drugs, and poetry permeate this oral history of Leonard Cohen. . . . This book offers a seductive blend of sometimes contradictory insights.”
—?Library Journal

“An exhaustive oral history of the Canadian icon.”
—?Kirkus Reviews

“Posner is our Cohen-centric tour guide. He has delivered an enthralling oral history, carefully weaving the multi-voice narratives to us in a revealing, deep-dive exploration. I eagerly await the next volume.”
—?HARVEY KUBERNIK, music historian and author of?Leonard Cohen: Everybody Knows

“With this book, Michael Posner has pushed the horizons of biographical possibility. The voices gathered here are indispensable to complete the splendid mosaic that is Leonard Cohen.”
—?SOHEYL DAHI, poet, writer, and publisher

“A detailed account of Cohen’s fascinating early life and career. For serious Cohen fans, it’s a page-tuner.”
—?Canadian Jewish Record

“[L]ays bare just how tangled, busy and occasionally destructive [Cohen’s] love life really was . . . [and] charts his rise from struggling poet and novelist in the late 1950s to the start of his first international tour as a singer in 1970.”
—?The Telegraph

“Anyone seriously interested in the life of Leonard Cohen, and his emergence as a world-renowned, much-loved poet-novelist and singer-songwriter, should read this book.”
—?Senior Times

“With deft organization and interstitial authorial narrative, Posner skillfully strings together the story of the first 36 years of Cohen’s life—from his childhood in Montreal through his rise to predominance in Canada’s vital poetry scene to his successful transition from a purely literary figure to a celebrated songwriter, performer, and recording artist—in the voices of friends, family, and literary and musical peers.”
—?The Forward

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