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Beautiful Losers Paperback – November 2, 1993

79 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Dubbed "an unstructured, free-form, irreverent novel" ( LJ 4/1/66) by LJ 's reviewer, Beautiful Losers seemed too strange even for the Sixties. Nevertheless, the book went on to become a cult hit, selling more than 400,000 copies before going out of print. The novel is now being reissued to coincide with the upcoming publication of Cohen's Stranger Music. With its gay relationships, homages to Canadian Native Americans, and search for the meaning of life, this may now find wider acceptance in the mainstream. For public libraries.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.


'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 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 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 out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reissue edition (November 2, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679748253
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679748250
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #82,774 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

120 of 122 people found the following review helpful By Barron Laycock HALL OF FAME on May 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
When this book was first published in the mid-sixties, the New York Times reviewer said that he had discovered that James Joyce wasn't dead; he was alive and writing in Montreal under the name of Leonard Cohen. Younger fiction fans are likely ignorant of just how influential and omnipresent Leonard Cohen, a young Canadian Jew living in Montreal was in the late 1960s. He was a novelist/poet/songwriter/folksinger, running with the likes of Dylan, Eric Andersen, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins, Lou Reed, Van Morrison, etc. etc. etc. His poetry put to music reamins perhaps the most haunting and beautiful to come out of that fabled time. You've surely heard his work, but may not be aware of just how much he influenced his fellows. Here, however, is the ultimate portable testament to the sheer creative powers Cohen wields; Beautiful Losers.

The title comes from one of his earlier poems, which having a mysterious coda of "So you're the kind of vegetarian/ Who only eats roses/ Is that what you mean't/ with your beautiful losers?". Given that context, this title refers to the cast of incredibly beautiful losers at life's game in this fantastic cruise through Cohen's imagination and a stream of consciousness. I promise, this trip will be quite unlike anything you have ever experienced in print. It revolves around four characters, three of whom are dead, one of whom is a French-Canadian Indian nun who's been dead for over three hundred years, and who's currently being considered for cannonization by the Cathloic Church. From its opening question, "Catherine Tekakawitha, who are you?" to his final plea to "poor men, poor men such as we, they've gone and fled", this is a book that will leave you breathless.
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47 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Sebastien Pharand on March 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
Songwriter/singer/poet/novelist Leonard Cohen is a writer who, through the use of a few words alone, can send a thousand different emotions and images through your head. His writing is powerful and touching, though often too poetic. Beautiful Losers is, in fact, a poem disguised as a novel. It is a postmodernistic work of Canadian fiction that, although beautiful, refuses to make sense.
The story's nameless narrator is scarred by the death of his wife, Edith, and of his best friend, F. As the three were part of a very strange romantic triangle, the posthumous revelations the narrator comes to during the course of the story are highly revealing and often shocking. As he mourns his wife, he cannot hide the fact that he was also in love with F. and his strange view on life.
A historian in disguise, the narrator is also doing research on an Native saint named Catherine, who's story is an echo of the things the narrator has went through and is going through. As these four chracters entertwine, and as more and more painful secrets are revealed, we are forced into a chaotic world where sense does not exist, where order and sanity are always at stake.
A highly poetic effort, Beautiful Losers ins't a book that should be read quickly. Just like the prose, the reader should take his time while reading it. It's too easy to miss the great irony and humour behind all the darkness and sadness of the prose. Cohen created a world where surrealism, sexuality and violence are part of the ordinary, where order seems to fail with a shocking consistancy and where disorder seems to rule.
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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By "hannah1350n" on May 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
Forget for a moment Cohen the poet, Cohen the prophet, Cohen the musician. The question remains: "Is Cohen a good novelist?"
The answer, suprisingly, is yes. Beautiful Losers can nowhere be described as coherent. It is, at best semi-lucid prose coupled with oblique folk references, a melding of a surrealist love story with a more complex overlay of mythology and cultural humility.
At the bottom level, this is a story about a widower, his bisexual best friend, and a dead wife who slept with both of them.
Somewhere else, this book becomes spiritual. Haunted by exotic visions of the Catherine Tekakwitha, the Iroquois Virgin, the narrator puts context into politics and spiritualism. Tangled up in a scheme of self-discovery is a satire on Canadian politics and recrimination, a story of mourning, and an exploration of the forms of human cruelty.
We get it all.
The book is easy to put down, hard to read into, and still obsessively addictive. You will find yourself running his images through your head long after the cover is closed.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By J. Steinhardt on May 26, 2006
Format: Paperback
Having avoided Leonard Cohen for so long, lumping him with the "classic rock" I found annoying, I'm now in the midst of a serious Leonard Cohen Obsession by way of a Jeff Buckley cover and then this massively brilliant, inspired and dense, genuis, pornographic, and simply awesome novel. The language in this book is so alive, you would think it would grow flesh on the page. Any passage rivals Henry Miller, James Joyce, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. If you're looking for a plot-driven page turner, go elsewhere. This is the stuff of serious linguistic revelry, for people who like to read books that make you jealous that he wrote it, and you didn't.

Like: Days without work. Why did that list depress me? I should never have made the list. I've done something bad to your belly, Edith. I tried to use it. I tried to use your belly against the Plague. I tried to be a man in a padded locker room telling a beautiful smutty story to eternity. I tried to be an emcee in a tuxedo arousing a lodge of honeymooners, my bed full of golf windows. I forgot that I was desperate. I forgot that I began this research in desperation. My briefcase fooled me. My tidy notes led me astray. I thought I was doing a job.

Or: Oh God, Your Morning Is Perfect. People Are Alive In Your World. I Can Hear The Little Children In The Elevator. The Airplane Is Flying Through The Original Blue. Mouths Are Eating Breakfast. The Radio Is Filled With Electricity. The Trees Are Excellent.

[It goes on for two pages like this, beautiful, perfect.]

So, I would have to say that I give this an effusive six out of five stars.

And, I should add, Leonard Cohen is NOT dead! He is a Zen monk. Where are the novels that he was supposed to write for us?
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