The Gypsy Wife

Legendary Canadian troubadour and poet Leonard Cohen has won the ninth Glenn Gould Prize for lifetime achievement in the arts and communication, it was announced Friday at a ceremony in Toronto.

Cohen, 76, is the third Canadian to take the $50,000 international honour, established in 1987 to commemorate the life and work of pianist Glenn Gould (1932-1982) and sometimes called “the Nobel Prize of the arts.” He is famous for such songs as Suzanne, Bird on a Wire and Hallelujah and books such as The Spice-Box of Earth and Let Us Compare Mythologies.

Globe and Mail, April 1, 2011

I’ve heard all the wild reports, they can’t be right
But whose head is this she’s dancing with on the threshing floor
whose darkness deepens in her arms a little more

And where, where is my Gypsy wife tonight?
Where, where is my Gypsy wife tonight?

Ah the silver knives are flashing in the tired old cafe
A ghost climbs on the table in a bridal negligee
She says, “My body is the light, my body is the way”
I raise my arm against it all and I catch the bride’s bouquet

And where, where is my Gypsy wife tonight?…

Too early for the rainbow, too early for the dove
These are the final days, this is the darkness, this is the flood
And there is no man or woman who can’t be touched
But you who come between them will be judged

And where, where is my Gypsy wife tonight?…

In Waltz Into Darkness, a 1947 noir crime novel by Cornell Woolrich (writing as William Irish) weaves a beautiful, terribly tragic tribute to the intricacies of human relationships and the depths that we are willing to sink to if we think worthy the person we make our descent with. This is, in essence, a romance novel under the guise of a noir crime tale.

Louis Durand is a man not accustomed to the ways of love and finds himself overwhelmed by the extreme emotional states that accompany it. He could be argued as a weakling and a coward, but any true romantic (a category under which I myself likely would fall) will be moved by his unchanged, unshakeable devotion to the woman that he has his heart set on. He compromises his own morals and safety and way of life to win her over.

The character of Julia Russell and her successor is the true star of the novel. She is a woman hardened by the world that has turned its nose up at her and throughout the novel grows out of her cynical, loveless, deceitful shell and evolves into a woman that she before was so afraid to become.

The novel is one of the definitive dark love stories of literary history, richly written by a brilliant author who clearly has personal stakes in the story. The novel will bear a much greater significance to those well versed in the ways of love and its darker faces. Detractors of love, cynics, and the naive in the world of relationships should steer clear, but for those who don’t fit those descriptions and those who are looking for a tale of truly moving love and lack thereof, pick up this novel immediately.

Book review shamelessly cadged from Amazon.

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