Book Review: A Sense of Wonder: Van Morrison’s Ireland

“A Sense of Wonder” is the third biography of Van Morrison I’ve read, and the best of the three. All of them pretty much describe a self-absorbed loner with little respect for his fans, but this one focuses much more on his song writing and its sources. In appreciating his music, I’m more interested in that than in the traits of his personality – though I can’t ignore the contradictions that sometimes appear.

At times in this book I found the author’s connections of Van to Yeats or Blake a bit over the top. As much as I love Van’s catalog up until about the late ’90s, I’m not fooled about the quality of his poetry. No cliché is safe from him and while he can be very moving in his presentation, his lyrics are far from intriguing.

Still, the author was more realistic at other times, and I especially appreciated his reflections on Van’s mediocre and repetitive later work – along with some of the insights about his personal life that may have contributed to his decline.