The first of three volumes—The Early Years—follows Cohen 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.
The book is personal reflections. There are stories within stories ... because of the book’s format, its explanatory potential is not exploited. It’s not clear, for instance, why we learn so much about Cohen’s skill at seducing teenage virgins ... not all aspects of a person’s life are equally interesting or relevant. Some are useless for knowing someone’s unique being and work, and why it mattered ... The book expresses the belief, in the age of limitless information, that facts are valuable in and of themselves. It’s not true ... Much is irrelevant or contradictory to what makes a life or art important. Posner includes it all. It will interest some, but perhaps at a cost: understanding why Cohen mattered, and will continue to.
With so many stories, however, the book is often repetitive as countless interviewees attest to his charm, sexual magnetism, kindness, humility, and moodiness ... This book offers a seductive blend of sometimes contradictory insights into Cohen but will be sought after only by his most devoted fans.
Posner certainly turned over a lot of stones in his quest to come up with fresh stories about the great songwriter and poet ... Though Posner touches on Cohen's love-hate relationship with his mother, his insecurities as a singer, and his brushes with LSD, Scientology, Bob Dylan, depression, and guns, the author seems most interested in keeping score of the number of women this prolific romancer bedded—and then documented in his songs ... A voluminous account of Leonard Cohen as pained artist and superseducer. For die-hard fans only.