edited by Stephen Scobie

Title Intricate Preparations: Writing Leonard Cohen
& Essays On Canadian Writing: Leonard Cohen Issue
Author Edited by Stephen Scobie
Country & Year Canada 2000
Publisher ECW Press, Canada.
Distributed by General Distribution Services.

Also published in the series Essays on Canadian Writing, Number 69, Winter 1999.
Pages 262 pages. Photos by Christoph Graf and Betty Gustafson.
Notes ISBN 1-55022-433-6. Paperback.
Summary "My intention in editing this book (and the special issue of Essays on Canadian Writing) has been to represent the varied and paradoxical nature of Cohen's reputation and reception. Thus, the book has its fair share of academic essays, along with the kind of discussion, less formal but no less intelligent, that goes on in non-academic circles, and includes personal reminiscences and the work of several writers who pay tribute to Cohen in poems that “translate” his work into new idioms. And the book is, of course, fully international in character, with contributions from Canada, Australia, Great Britain, France, Germany, Belgium, Norway, and Finland.

I owe a great debt of gratitude to Leonard Cohen himself: for his work, first of all, and for its continuing presence and inspiration in my life. I remember the first time I ever saw Leonard Cohen: at a poetry reading in Vancouver in 1966. None of us was prepared for a strummed guitar and a strange, haunting song about a woman called Suzanne. So, we were all astonished. A third of a century later, I still am."

- Stephen Scobie

* * *

This wonderful collection of Cohen materials was published at the time of The Montreal 2000 Event. Stephen Scobie did an excellent job of combining serious, intellectual, academic works of Cohen criticism with items from Cohen fans. The series is, after all, "a scholarly journal of criticism and review devoted to the study of Canadian literature." The distinction implied is also arbitrary, however - seven pages of excerpts from newsgroup postings on "Closing Time" proves Fiona, Elsie, Ania, Judith (Braun), Geoff, StSquidgy and Barb worthy intellectual competition to the academics. Similarly, Bill, Judith Fitzgerald, and Jim Devlin make strong contributions to an entertaining symposium on "Famous Blue Raincoat." Henning gets his Marita update ("I'm almost 40 now, forget it") displayed on its own page (86) in just-the-right size capital letters. Jarkko's article describes the on-line Cohen phenomenon; Christof Graf writes of Cohen in Germany, 1993, with photos; and Geoffrey (Snow) Wren provides a delightfully profane two-page letter to Leonard. To cap it off, Cohen contributes two new poems, "Kitchen Table" and "What Baffled Me." If you've read the review this far, the book is a must-have for your Cohen library!

The later Canadian printing of the material "Intricate Preparations: Writing Leonard Cohen" has a different cover, a different title, and a higher price, but it is otherwise identical to ECW - 69. (How did Scobie get the Cohen ECW edition to have "that" number? "Intricate Preparations" does not display 69 on its spine.) Be sure and get at least one of these books before they disappear. Cohen "Completists" may want both.

- Dick Straub

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