Joni: The Creative Odyssey of Joni Mitchell

Katherine Monk, Author
Katherine Monk. Greystone (PGW, dist.), $18.95 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-55365-837-5
Open Ebook - 318 pages - 978-1-55365-838-2
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Canadian critic Monk (Weird Sex and Snowshoes: And Other Canadian Film Phenomena) presents a curious survey of Joni Mitchell's life and myth, lying somewhere between biography and music criticism. For the most part, the author makes a convincing case that certain pivotal moments in Mitchell's life and career are inseparable from, and essential to, a full understanding of corresponding moments in her vast and enigmatic output. This is exemplified in such passages as the extensive explanation of the effect Mitchell's childhood bout with polio had on the development of her singular guitar style. The anecdotal portions of the book are exceedingly well told, and most of the connections the author makes are cited substantially. In contrast, Monk often makes detours into Joni Mitchell mythology that, while clearly written from a place of affection and admiration, contrasts strangely with adjacent passages of a more factual nature, to disorienting effect. Readers expecting a straightforward biography, or those without a front-to-back familiarity with her catalogue may be further disoriented by Monk's tendency to arrange the narrative by topic, rather than strict chronology. With these caveats, however, the book is still essential for the Joni Mitchell superfan, and even people more casually acquainted with her work may enjoy what they learn. (Nov.)
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