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Ira B. Nadel
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Various Positions: A Life of Leonard Cohen

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  432 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
Reissued with a new afterword

Leonard Cohen is back! With a #1 bestselling poetry collection, The Book of Longing, flying off bookshelves; Lian Lunson’s acclaimed documentary, Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man, in theatres this summer (the DVD will release this fall); and the superb soundtrack in music stores everywhere, Leonard Cohen proves he is Canada’s most enduring icon. Now
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Published (first published 1994)
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Ann Diamond
Jul 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am finally getting around to reading this biography which I was asked to review when it first came out in 1996. At the time I was distracted by several factual errors that jumped out at me when I started reading it -- and which caused me to doubt the value of the whole book. I felt it was a staid rehashing of the already well-known (at least to me) facts of Leonard's career and life, by someone who didn't really "get" him, i.e. Nadel did a workmanly job of presenting the material, often withou ...more
James Murphy
After some debate with myself, I've decided I've already read this, borrowed from the library then, not remembering, re-bought a couple of years ago in a used bookstore. A good account of Cohen's life. Particularly interesting in terms of the influence of women in his work. For many years Cohen lived on a Greek island called Hydra. Included in the photos is a picture of him on his birthday, and behind him, on a bed, is a beautiful, topless woman. I'd always thought the woman was Greek. Given to ...more
Suzan Alteri
Dec 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful biography of one of my favorite songwriters - if not my favorite songwriters. Written a while ago, this is still probably my favorite Leonard Cohen biography. Nadel's insights into Cohen are fascinating, if not always entirely correct. Cohen has always been an enigmatic personality and this book tries to tape into the enigma, with good success. There's a new Leonard Cohen biography out, which I am also excited to read. This was also part of my re-reads over break. I have read this bo ...more
Judy Frabotta
May 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a stark raving Leonard Cohen fan. He has been the sound track to my life (particularly the difficult parts) since I heard his first album in a Georgetown college dorm room. I always thought his voice was perfectly suited to deliver his dark, funny, always surprising lyrics.

Anyway, this book was satisfying in the sense of putting together the chronology of his life and learning about his influences and discovering some things I'd never heard before. It was upsetting in the sense that unmask
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Lew Auerbach
Aug 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For a Cohen groupie, this is essential reading, despite its age -- almost 17, and some parts which are not particuarly well written. Nadel has talked to many of the girlfriends, musicians, fellow poets, and Leonard himself. One cannot come away from this without a deeper appreciation of Cohen, and the back story to some of his poems, songs, books, and loves.
TL
Aug 29, 2014 marked it as dnf  ·  review of another edition
Second time I tried to read this ... Mr. Cohen is a fascinating man but the writing is just flat for me.
Jani
Jul 19, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Leonard Cohen is a fascinating character, one of the true originals of the music world, one could say. Only familiar with his "musical side" (and pieces of the myth of the artist), I was somewhat surprised by this book. In short, I did not expect quite so much about the non-music side: Nadel goes to great lengths to tell about the Cohen before the recordings and about his personal life, which are of course very fine as this is a full biography, not a look at an artistic career.

While I can unders
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Maja Šoštarić
Technically, there is little to reproach to the book of Ira Nadel. It is well-written, chronologically clear, and its style is quite affordable for any kind of reader - a good read in sum. Nadel's insistence on limiting the book to its strictly biographical content and depriving it from various interpretations of Cohen's life and opus, as well as from the usual tabloid-style trivia, is obviously very welcome and commendable.

Still: in some parts of the book Nadel tries to deduce Cohen's artistic
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David
Mar 30, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book is a bit of a wasted opportunity. While not an official biography, Nadel had access to tons of people close to Cohen, and the book was “benignly tolerated” by Cohen himself. But the author apparently chose to ignore Cohen’s advice not to let “the facts get in the way of the truth.”

Nadel, a professor of English at the University of British Columbia, is clearly a fan, but he seems reluctant to own the material or to impose any kind of overarching interpretation on Cohen’s life and work.
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David Fox
Oct 22, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
L. Cohen - An Academic Analysis

From the first time I heard Cohen sing Suzanne my junior year of high school I knew that I had discovered a singer/songwriter who would captivate me for years to come. And so it was. I have been an ardent follower of his music & literature for well over 40 years. He is without a doubt one of my all time favorite musical artists. And so, it is sort of odd that it has taken me over seven years to finally tackle this slim, academically focused biography. This book
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Dennis Gray
Feb 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very revealing look at one of Canada's most iconic authors, poets, and/or artists. If you've ever wondered where Cohen's lyrics came from, this will help you to understand, as much as anyone can, the way his faith, philosophy, and insecurity combined to create a compelling and unorthodox vision.
Guinevere Johansson
May 28, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of Cohen, 60's, lyrical poetry, Hydra, Nico
"In Provence they encountered a massive traffic jam en route to the concert. Bob Johnston told Billy Daniels, the road manager, to get some horses, since most of the musicians were from Texas or Tennessee. There were horses at the stable attached to the country inn where they were staying, so they mounted up and headed through the countryside to their destination. To their astonishment, along the way they found a French steakhouse done up as a "Texas bar." Ten cowboys and one Montreal Jew who ha ...more
Janne Paananen
Oct 27, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: musiikki
Ira B. Nadel on käynyt kiitettävällä tarmolla käsiksi Leonard Cohenin elämään. Hän siteeraa antaumuksella Cohenin runoja, kirjoja ja lauluntekstejä ja sitoo niitä niiden kirjoittamisaikaan ja Leonardin sen hetkiseen elämään. Ja analysoi niitä myös. Valitettavasti hän ei osaa antaa tarinan "hengittää" lainkaan. Koko kirja on tappavan tylsästi kirjoitettu. Nadel on verraton tutkija ja perehtynyt aiheeseensa viimeisen päälle hyvin, mutta kirja tuntuu enemmän tutkielmalta kuin elämäkerralta. Kirja o ...more
R.
Jun 13, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been a fan of Leonard Cohen ever since I bought his first album as "an experiment."
I've even enjoyed his poetry and prose, though to a lesser extent. So it was quite a surprise to read Nadel's biography and find how Leonard differs so radically from his public profile. Can't say as I'm all that fond of Leonard's lifestyle, but after all, it is *his* lifestyle. And it won't affect my respect and appreciation of his craft in the least.

Nadel's writing style was a hindrance at times. However,
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Dorothy
Jul 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am such a big fan of Leonard Cohen that I'm afraid I could never honestly or objectively review his bio. What I feared would happen (and didn't) was that the book would be full of references to what inspired this song or that poem and it would spoil his work for me from then on. Leonard Cohen's work is so sublime that no such thing could interfere with my enjoyment of it. That said, someday a great biography may be written on this great artist, but this wasn't it. Not a bad try, and I enjoyed ...more
Angrom
Dec 29, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Biographie un peu décevante ... Je cherchais quelque chose sur la musique de Leonard Cohen et déjà il faut attendre quasiment la moitié du livre pour entendre parler de musique (la faute à un début de carrière tardif, il est vrai)
La bio est bien écrite et se lit bien mais ne va pas pour moi assez au fond des choses. Et puis faire une bio sur Cohen sans mentionner une seule fois Hallelujah c'est osé !
Rob
Jul 31, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book fills in a lot of gaps in my knowledge of early and late "folk" music and Cohen's poetry. Never quite knew what "Suzanne" (so how many times did I listen to Judy Collin's version on my small phonograph on the porch of my house in Dembi Dolo, Ethiopia)was about. Now I have a better sense and yet there's so much ambiguity in his work. Have about 30 of his songs on my ipod. But sometimes you just wanna say, "Hey, Leonard, lighten up."
Karenguinea
Sep 21, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have always like Leonard Cohen, but after watching the recent documentary "I'm your man", I was eager to find out more about this disciplined, intriguing, sexy but dark human being. Learnt a lot about Leonard Cohen and his life but found the book a little disjointed and difficult to follow and was still yearning for more info about the man at the end.
Dan Hatcher
Feb 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More than a revealing biography of Cohen, this book has a lot of practical wisdom for aspiring artists. "Discipline, integrity, spirit and generosity form the essential lexicon of Leonard Cohen." -and that is why he is worth emulating.
Brenda
Oct 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What can I say, he's the 'man'... I don't always understand him but I just love the flow of the words and the hypnotic quality that he manages to engender with everything he does - music, poetry, novels...Leonard Cohen's words will haunt me all my life, for me he is the ultimate word-smith.
Cassie
Nov 16, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am only about 60 pages into the book, but I love it! This "benignly tolerated" biography confirms what I have always suspected... that much of Leonard Cohen's fiction is heavily influenced by his own life. I confess that I am a little bit obsessed with Mr. Cohen.
Dave
Jul 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting read but sadly I liked the guy much less after reading it.
Anabela
Jan 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is more than a book; it's a pleasure.
Sommer
Jan 26, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The original ladies man. I love how he was a poet and then realized he could get more girls if he played guitar and sang his poetry. I looooove L.C.
Theodora
Jul 08, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books08, eros, unveiling
Leonard Cohen -- sex and God.
Mark
Nov 30, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An Ok, but not very insightful biography of Leonard Cohen.
Andy
Jul 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mr Cohen has always fascinated me with his lyrics and the little I know of his personal history
Kathryn
Sep 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I want to marry this man....
Hadi
May 20, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My love 14
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