The Flame by Leonard Cohen review – the last word in love and despair


This post is by Kate Kellaway from Books | The Guardian


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The songwriter and poet’s final writings are full of youthful spark, beauty and romance

The first time I came across Leonard Cohen – before I had ever heard his songs – I was an opinionated 16-year-old. I was drawn to a volume of his poetry in a bookshop but when I got it home dismissed it as a) too depressed and b) – more snootily – as not literature. Now, decades later, I no longer care whether Cohen’s work is literature. This grand book, The Flame, elegantly and posthumously published by Canongate, includes lyrics of last-gasp beauty from You Want It Darker – his final album with its against-the-odds satisfactions (to do partly with the octogenarian unlikeliness of its existing at all). The Flame is also a selection of the Canadian singer-songwriter’s unpublished work. Cohen’s son, Adam, has been its sensitive custodian. And as for the depression, it has ...