The Smutty Poems And Pictures That Helped Get Kleiner Perkins Sued

The Book of Longing

Venture capitalist Ellen Pao is suing her employer, Kleiner Perkins, for gender discrimination and retaliation following alleged incidents of sexual harassment stretching back five years.

So you can imagine there’s not much they agree on.

Save for this: In early 2007, a Kleiner partner, Randy Komisar, gave Pao a copy of the Book of Longing, a collection of poems and drawings by Leonard Cohen. This came shortly after the breakoff of an affair Pao had with another colleague, Ajit Nazre.

In her complaint, Pao portrays it as an erotic Valentine’s Day present, accompanied by an invitation to a Saturday-night dinner. Kleiner says it was a late holiday gift.   

We went online and ordered a copy sent to our local library branch and picked it up. 

We read the Book of Longing. We could not believe our eyes. 

Cohen’s work is challenging and provocative. It is also, as they say, not safe for work. We bookmarked pages with words or pictures that a reasonable adult might find racy. That ended up being about 40 per cent of the book.

 In any normal workplace, a coworker giving such a gift would probably have been marched out by HR.

 If Pao’s lawsuit tells us anything, it is that Kleiner is not a normal workplace.

The very first page sets the tone.

Cohen, likewise, is a student of Zen. But he admits he prefers to talk about sex.

Cohen frequently writes about his sexual desire.

Pao alleges that Komisar came into her office, gave her the book, and invited her to a Saturday-night dinner, saying his wife would be out of town.

In its response, Kleiner says Komisar's wife, Debra Dunn, purchased the book for Komisar to give to Pao.

Kleiner also notes that Pao gave Komisar a holiday gift.

If you were married, would you feel comfortable buying this book for a colleague's spouse?

No one has heard from Nazre in months. Some people have told us he is now in India.

Did Cohen ever imagine his book would become the subject of a lawsuit?

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