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Review: Joni: The Creative Odyssey of Joni Mitchell Print-ready version

by Peter Thornell
Library Journal
December 2012

(STARRED REVIEW) Monk, Katherine. Joni: The Creative Odyssey of Joni Mitchell. Greystone. 2012.
320p. photogs. ISBN 9781553658375. pap. $18.95. MUSIC

Biographies of Joni Mitchell are attempted every few years, but the definitive one will have to wait until the singer-songwriter tells her own story. In the meantime. Monk's {Weird Sex & Snowshoes: And Other Canadian Film Phenomena) is the closest thing to essential reading. She describes her book as a "rambling adventure into the creative soul," and it follows Mitchell's path to popular and critical success as well as her self-imposed exile from that success, while frankly addressing the highs and lows of her career and personal life. One intriguing aspect of the book is Monk's pursuit of a kind of Mitchell- approved reading list (because of her subject's own interest in philosophy). Monk uses Martin Heidegger, Joseph Campbell, and especially Friedrich Nietzsche to tell Mitchell's story and shape the narrative of her creative odyssey.

Monk's own personality frequently surfaces, and it's noteworthy that the last two major books on Mitchell - this and Michelle Mercer's Will You Take Me as I Am - each fuse factual information with a strong authorial presence; it speaks to the impact Mitchell's music can have on an individual and makes for an engaging narrative. This unique and thoughtful biography is recommended for all fans of Joni Mitchell.
- Peter Thornell, Hingbam P.L., MA

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