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English poet Roger Green left the safety of God, country, and whiskey to immerse himself in an austere and sober life on the Greek Island of Hydra. But when Green discovered that his terrace overlooked the garden of sixties balladeer Leonard Cohen, he became obsessed with Cohen's songs, wives, and banana tree. Hydra starts with a poem the author wrote and recited for his fifty-seventh birthday (borrowing the meter of Cohen's "Suzanne," and ripe with references to the song), with Cohen's ex-partner Suzanne, who may or may not be the subject of Cohen's song, in the audience. By turns playful and philosophic, Green's unconventional memoir tells the story of his journey down the rabbit hole of obsession, as he confronts the meaning of poetry, history, and his own life. Beginning as a poetic meditation upon Leonard Cohen's bananas, Green's bardic pilgrimage takes the reader on various twists and turns until, at last, the poet accepts the joy of accepting his fate.
A British poet turns 53, moves to a Greek island, becomes obsessed with the island's most famous ex-resident singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen and writes a book about it all. It's an eclectic mixture of memoir, diary, scrapbook and philosophical ramblings. Green, the poet, finds himself living next door to a garden full of banana trees owned by 1970s pop star Cohen (referred to only by the initial "L."). Inexplicably, Green becomes powerfully attracted to the bananas and their absent owner. He begins to see bananas everywhere: in the Old Testament (did Adam and Eve clothe themselves in banana leaves?), in Robbe-Grillet poems, on the cover of L.'s album I'm Your Man. He even goes so far as to befriend some of L.'s old acquaintances on the island, including a fellow poet and L.'s former lover, Suzanne, who is, alas, not the Suzanne of the famous L. song. The goal of all this good-natured stalking is unclear, but this isn't a book of goals, or even conclusions; it's simply an expression of what is, clearly, an enviable and rewarding existence. Green's idiosyncrasies occasionally annoy as when he starts a new paragraph with the sentence, "I think I'll start a new paragraph" but just as often he produces little treasures, such as a raunchy 1950s rumba celebrating "Chiquita Banana, down in Martinique," who "dresses in bananas with the modern technique."