Beautiful Losers Paperback – 26 Mar 1992
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‘A fantasied eroticism which is wildly funny…An exciting book.’ Sunday Times
‘The literary counterpart of “Hair” on the stage and “Easy Rider” on the screen.’ Daily Telegraph
‘The most vivid, fascinating and brave modern novel I have read.’ Michael Ondaatje
‘Gorgeously written…one comes out of it having seen terrible and beautiful visions.’ New York Times
‘Brilliant, explosive, a fountain of talent…James Joyce is not dead…he lives under the name of Cohen…writing from the point of view of Henry Miller.’ Boston Herald
‘Fuses sexuality with spirituality…mystical and profane, poetic and obscene…an invitation to play Russian roulette with a phallic pistol.’ Kirkus Reviews
‘Cohen assaults the reader with words, images, pyrotechnics and love. It’s a raging, poetic, highly personal and eminently readable book.’ Toronto Star--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
From the Inside Flap
One of the best-known experimental novels of the 1960s, "Beautiful Losers is Cohen's most defiant and uninhibited work. The novel centres upon the hapless members of a love triangle united by their sexual obsessions and by their fascination with Catherine Tekakwitha, the 17th-century Mohawk saint.
By turns vulgar, rhapsodic, and viciously witty, "Beautiful Losers explores each character's attainment of a state of self-abandonment, in which the sensualist cannot be distinguished from the saint.
"From the Paperback edition. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
It is a challenging work; there is no plot to speak of, while the three main characters consist of the narrator, an unidentifed friend known as 'F', and the narrator's wife Edith.
We increasingly learn of the complexities of the three-way love triangle. Edith and 'F' are both dead by the start of the novel, leading the damaged narrator to is corruptness, sex is redemption, and death is the ultimate breakdown in communication.
The dark poetry of this book, sprinkled lovingly on Cohen's songs, makes 'Beautiful Losers' a kind of cross between 'Last Exit to Brooklyn', 'Ulysses', and Frederico Garcia Lorca. A young Bob Dylan at the height of his fame once wrote a free-form novel, 'Tarantula'. It wasn't very good. By contrast, 'Beautiful Losers' both illumniates and expands the inherent themes in the music of Leonard Cohen, and is in itself a literary triumph.
I first discovered Beautiful losers around 10 years ago and after sitting there for over a hour and found that I couldn't even get through the first 30 pages. It was then duly placed to one side and forgotten about. I have always wished that I had persevered as I was sure that I was missing something. With this in mind I picked it up again and settled down for a read.
The novel is split into 3 parts, the first part is told through the eyes of an anonymous narrator and details his bizarre relationship with his wife (Edith) and best friend ('F'), interwoven into this is the story of Catherine Tekakwitha a 17th Century Saint. As the narrator recounts past events (whether real or imagined we are never totally sure) it becomes apparent that out of the group he is the only one left alive. All sounds a little bizarre? That's because it is. Although the previous sentence may indicate that there is some sort of plot to the novel you would be extremely hard pressed to find one. What about themes I hear you ask? Well for me the only really apparent theme was that of sex. Graphic descriptions on practically every page (I am sure that this book must hold some sort of record for using the c*** word) that would give even Richard Laymon a run for his money.Read more ›
In "Beautiful Losers," Cohen's great theme is sex. His only theme, really. Did he ever think of anything else? If so, he chose not to document it. Stylistically, the book is a mishmash of modernist techniques, a lot of Joyce, possibly Rimbaud. No plot, of course. A young man's book in many ways: a frenzied torrent of words, formless, rambling, digressive, violent, obsessively sexual. A few bits of Greek thrown in, pretentiously.
In the aforementioned "extra" essay, we are told that in 1966 Cohen called this book "a technical masterpiece." I can only assume that was a joke. In Cohen's forward from the first Chinese edition in 2000, also included here, he calls it "the frenzied thoughts of my youth," advising the reader that "this is a difficult book, even in English, if it is taken too seriously." The forward ends graciously:" Dear Reader, please forgive me if I have wasted your time." Well, I consider "Beautiful Losers" to have been something of a waste of my time and money. It's a self-indulgent mess. It's of slight historical interest, maybe, considering Cohen's later career, but that's it, in my humble opinion. But I forgive you, Leonard.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Good but a bit dated.
Interesting, would have been shocking (in a good way) & trailblazing when first published.
Pure joy! The man is an unparalleled wordsmith who paints a picture of love and life that draws tears and laughs in equal measure.Published 20 months ago by Myrddyn
Big LC fan but the written word wasn't of the same standard as the musicPublished on 22 July 2014 by Geoffrey R. Wilson