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Publisher's Summary

A memoir of the author's decades-long friendship and spiritual journey with the late singer, songwriter, novelist, and poet Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen passed away in late 2016, leaving behind many who cared for and admired him, but perhaps few knew him better than longtime friend Eric Lerner. Lerner, a screenwriter and novelist, first met Cohen at a Zen retreat 40 years ago. Their friendship helped guide one another through life's myriad obstacles, a journey told from a new perspective for the first time.

Funny, revealing, self-aware, and deeply moving, Matters of Vital Interest is an insightful memoir about Lerner's relationship with his friend, whose idiosyncratic style and dignified life was deeply informed by his spiritual practices. Lerner invites listeners to step into the room with them and listen in on a lifetime's ongoing dialogue, considerations of matters of vital interest, spiritual, mundane, and profane. In telling their story, Lerner depicts Leonard Cohen as a captivating persona the likes of which we may never see again. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

©2018 Eric Lerner (P)2018 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"A remarkably intimate and insightful portrait of one of the world's greatest songwriters - but more than that, a genuine and moving chronicle of friendship, spiritual aspiration, aging, and love." (Alan Light, author of The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of "Hallelujah")

"Lerner's tender, moving memoir reveals Cohen as a devoted friend and father, a side of him not often seen in public." (Publishers Weekly)

"Matters of Vital Interest is a portrait of a decades-long friendship, and the vision of Leonard Cohen that emerges from it is much like the persona he invents in his songs - seductive, knowing, hyper-articulate, not always likable but always fascinating. More than a foil, Lerner is the singer's partner in crime, spiritual questing, and, until Leonard Cohen's death, sheer survival. They are brothers, and this is their story, told from the heart." (Anthony DeCurtis, author of Lou Reed: A Life)

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great intimate book about an amazing all time poet

This is a very private book about the life of the writer and his friendship with Leonard Cohen.
It is less about the timeline of Leonard career and his flow of life, but more intimate, close and sensitive glimpse of who he was as a father, friend, brother and a person behind the songs and the smart comments to the press.
It is also shading some light on his last few years which is very intimate and sad.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is a Cohen fan and want to better understand who was this giant poet for other close friends who stayed with him for the course of most his life.

2 people found this helpful

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Riding Leonard Cohen’s Coattails

As someone keenly interested in Cohen’s life and work, I was eager to read this book and disappointed by its lack of substance. Lerner might have offered insights others could not have, but he captures little more than a practical and superficial relationship. I am teaching courses on Cohen and his work, and I was hoping for the odd morsel that could be worth discussing. I found none. Lerner seems to have written the book with the hope of making some money from Cohen’s legacy, with no motivation beyond that.

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A truly loving friendship

I don't normally take the time to write out a full review. This book was excellent, a true masterpiece. It is a story written about a caring, deep friendship between two people who took an realistic look at whatever came their way and dealt with it using honesty, intelligence and humor. May all of us be blessed with a friend like this.

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Good story, narration didn’t measure up

As others have written this is a story of 2 men, often heavy with the authors experience. I wanted more of LC but all in all an interesting account. Which would have been rendered more interesting had the reader employed a long pause in those sensitive crucial parts of the story. The listener had no time to consider, reflect or simply feel the emotion. Too bad.

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Outstanding

What a great book. I felt like I was there. Cried a lot in the end.

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Friendship At Its Best

This book is the most beautiful story of a friendship between two men that I have ever read. The intimacy of their relationship and love for each other are unparalleled. I have read many such relationships between women but never have I read a relationship where two men really talk to each other and share emotions, happiness, sadness, career challenges, the meaning of life, loves, heart breaks, in such an intimate way. Eric Lerner is masterful in recounting 40 years of friendship with Leonard Cohen. This book is filled with love, humor and wit. The best book I have read in a long time.

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Writers illness & pain stories almost killed me

I don’t know the writer at all and would have loved a lot more of Leonard.