“Matters of Vital Interest” is a memoir chronicling Eric Lerner’s forty-year friendship with Leonard Cohen. It’s an unlikely friendship made even more unlikely by where they met—at St. Joseph’s Abbey in 1977. It recounts the strength of their friendship that grew out of the silence and discipline practiced at the Zen retreat and blossomed into a spiritual and steadfast bond.

With honesty and humor, the book is about the struggles of living by one’s creative wits; about aging and working to keep an edge; and about masculinity, both the boyish pleasure they took in each other’s presence and how they wrestled with the pains of ill health and divorce and the joys of raising children.

By placing the two lives alongside each other, Lerner provides a seldom seen angle on the late singer, songwriter, poet and novelist, while exploring the profound depth of their journey together. He invites us to stare out of Cohen’s window on a spring day, to hear his voice and cadence as directed towards a friend over the phone, to sit with him on the porch underneath the Californian sunshine.

As he discusses in the book, Lerner spoke at Cohen’s private funeral service at the insistence of Cohen’s family. November 2018 is the second anniversary of Cohen’s death. Given the close relationship between its two subjects, “Matters of Vital Interest” has the support of the Cohen family.

Eric Lerner has written a memoir of his early adventures in Buddhism, edited the off-the-wall journal Zero, was credited as writer and producer on the movies Bird on a Wire, Augustus, and Kiss the Sky, and written several novels, including Pinkerton’s Secret: The Original Manuscript.

• “Lerner’s tender, moving memoir reveals Cohen as a devoted friend and father, a side of him not often seen in public.”—Publishers Weekly

• “A sensitive portrait of a sly, charming, complicated man.” —Kirkus Reviews

• “An entertaining memoir…[and] a poignant account of a friendship and the last days of a remarkable life.” Library Journal

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