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One may justifiably be at a dead loss to define or defend Leonard Cohen's Beautiful Losers; it is both mystical and profane, poetic and obscene. He is a poet and he wrote the earlier, rather formless The Favorite Game: this second novel is deliberately inchoate with all kinds of subliminal freeform associations and technical experiments (unpunctuated pages, etc.). At times he seems closer to Genet than anyone writing today--- perhaps not in its intent as much as in its anal, erotic, and homoerotic particulars. Endlessly particularized. Interpreting it-- well it's an invitation to play Russian roulette with a phallic pistol. Superficially, the book deals with the relationships of the narrator, his best friend F., and his wife, Edith, whom they shared. It opens with an invocation to Catherine Tekakwitha, (1656-1680), an Iroquois Virgin, but before long one realizes that Cohen is using her short and ultimately sainted life for the superimposition of the image of Edith. "".... alone leads to Thee"" or again ""....... is holy, dirty and beautiful"" and the novel seems to fuse sexuality and spirituality and thereby achieves some sort of transubstantiation. Early on in this game the Beautiful Losers play it is said ""There is nothing so depressing as the eccentricity of a contemporary."" Many may feel that way during this via dolorosa of psychosexual decadence.

Pub Date: April 28th, 1966
ISBN: 0679748253
Publisher: Viking