This is a fabulous biography which does justice to the complexity of Cohen's work and is beautifully written. Cohen has had an extraordinary career. Signed by John Hammond for Columbia Records as a 32 year old poet, Cohen had a top ten hit with Old Ideas in 2012 at the age of 77. Cohen is the ultimate spiritual alchemist who can synthesise the essence of Jewish, Catholic and Buddhist faiths in his wry way. He explores sexual and religious ecstasy and guilt so that you're never sure if his songs are located in the groin or the soul. Simmons comes close to cracking the mystery of how Cohen does it - through illuminating comments from the man himself and a wide variety of interviews.
You know you're in for a classy ride when Simmons describes Cohen, in his early teens, avidly reading "25 Lessons in Hypnotism: How To Become An Expert Operator". The manual tells the young Canadian: "Your features should be set, firm and stern. Be quiet in all your actions. Let your voice grow lower, lower till just above a whisper. Pause a moment or two. You will fail if you hurry." As Simmons notes, this might have been written as career advice to the singer and performer Leonard would become.
The book has a really intelligent index so you can find whatever song or topic you're looking for. My only quibble is the reproduction of the photos is not the same standard as Simmons's excellent text or Cohen's brilliant songs.