Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Leonard Cohen: A Remarkable Life

June 29, 2016

Anthony Reynolds' Leonard Cohen: A Remarkable Life. Omnibus, 2010.

Leonard Cohen has been my passion since before I was an adult. I've attended two concerts, the first at university in Winnipeg in 1966 or '67. I have the novels, much poetry, the collected songs, CDs, DVDs, clippings, e-notifications. Yet it is never enough. And there are still bios I have not read. More reason to live.

This one, Leonard Cohen: A Remarkable Life by Anthony Reynolds, is aimed at musicians. The emphasis is on the recordings and recordings sessions. Less about the origins of the songs. Although we are told of the two Suzannes, that "Democracy" was in response to the Berlin Wall, and that Field Commander Cohen was more about himself, volunteering to entertain troops, than about his father who was a World War I veteran. It's these tidbits which interest me more than the names of behind-the-scenes artistic collaborators.

Unfortunately, there are too many things about this book that irk me. I even checked to see whether it is self-published as there seems to be a total lack of both line editing and copyediting. There is an abundance of quotations but absolutely no citations, especially for the words put into Cohen's mouth. I cannot believe that the writer actually interviewed his subject. Aside from the technical issues of punctuation and grammar, what annoys an old and loyal fan is the seeming lack of understanding of so many things which inform the artist and his music. With the exception of a bit about the record-making business, there is nothing here about context. Jewishness or Jewish humour. Nothing about Montreal, or Quebec, or French-speaking Canada, or Canada itself.

Reynolds is identified on the book jacket as "born in the early 1970s" and "living in Wales." I can forgive the condescension of youth, and the fact of a European ignorance of "the other side" of the world. I can forgive that he doesn't get the sense of humour until it is much too late. I choose not to forgive the ageism. Search the text for the term "geezer" and you'll understand what I mean.

Irish Tales and Sagas

June 28, 2016

Ulick O'Connor's Irish Tales and Sagas

Read this little collection, with beautiful watercolour illustrations, as research. Along with Ida Grehan's Irish Family Names.

It is wonderful to read stories of characters, their trials and tribulations, springing directly from place. Acknowledging that the land comes first, and then the people, who make up stories to explain, to cement their connection.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Planet Drum

June 15, 2016

Mickey Hart and Fredric Lieberman. Planet Drum: A Celebration of Percussion and Rhythm. 1991.

Music rises from the human heart. When the emotions are touched, they are expressed in sounds, and when the sounds take definite forms, we have music. Therefore the music of a peaceful and prosperous country is quiet and joyous, and the government is orderly; the music of a country in turmoil shows dissatisfaction and anger, and the government is chaotic; and the music of a destroyed country shows sorrow and remembrance of the past, and the people are distressed. Thus we see music and government are directly connected with one another. - Chinese Classic, from Hart & Lieberman, Planet Drum

I think I've always been attracted to drums - the way they use repetition and rhythm to communicate ideas and emotions. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016


Roddy Doyle's Bullfighting

My first encounter with Roddy Doyle's writing was through the great movie about an aspiring Irish rock band, The Commitments. I also love A Star Called Henry. I think that's the one, about the Easter Uprising of 1916, the resistance fighters holed up in Dublin's General Post Office. This book, Bullfighting, is a collection of short stories about Dublin men in their forties attempting to adjust to the changes -- physical, familial, economic, to name a few. I laughed. I cried. 

The Impossible Dead

June 6, 2016

Ian Rankin's The Impossible Dead

I still love Rebus, and because of him, I will read anything Ian Rankin offers. This, the third I think with the Complaint's Malcolm Fox as protagonist, is about secrets from the past surfacing, and about the ethics of undercover work and of covering up.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Trees and Stones

May 31, 2016

Bough Down: Praying With Tree Spirits. Dolfyn and Zu.

Circle of Stones: Woman's Journey To Herself. Judith Duerk.

Read these for research. Earth energy communicated through plants/trees. And the individuation process for females.


Peter Robinson. WHEN THE MUSIC'S OVER . M&S, 2016.  Banks has been promoted. His first two cases involve sexual abuse--one histori...