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The Favorite Game Paperback – October 14, 2003

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (October 14, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400033624
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400033621
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #322,046 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"He is a writer of terrific energy and color, a Rabelaisian comic and a visualizer of memorable scenes." --The Observer

“Is there any Canadian novel as compelling and as good as at capturing youthful anxieties as J. D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye? Absolutely. . . . Leonard Cohen’s first novel, The Favorite Game.” –Globe & Mail

The Favorite Game is a morally brave book, intimate and unflinching. . . . Leonard Cohen sustains the highest level of poetic craftsmanship throughout.” –Paul Quarrington

“It is the kind of book that becomes a law unto itself, simply because there is nothing with which to compare it.” –Calgary Albertan

From the Inside Flap

In this unforgettable novel, Leonard Cohen boldly etches the youth and early manhood of Lawrence Breavman, only son of an old Jewish family in Montreal. Life for Breavman is made up of dazzling colour ? a series of motion pictures fed through a high-speed projector: the half-understood death of his father; the adult games of love and war, with their infinite capacity for fantasy and cruelty; his secret experiments with hypnotism; the night-long adventures with Krantz, his beloved comrade and confidant. Later, achieving literary fame as a college student, Breavman does penance through manual labour, but ultimately flees to New York. And although he has loved the bodies of many women, it is only when he meets Shell, whom he awakens to her own beauty, that he discovers the totality of love and its demands, and comes to terms with the sacrifices he must make.

From the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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It is beautiful to witness.
J. N. Marks
This book will find you wherever you are.
A. Mikel Baudin
There was no dudt on that one book!HA!
Paul Ramone

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By J. N. Marks on June 6, 2005
Format: Paperback
The Favorite Game is the book I should have picked up before reading Beautiful Losers. It is as if the stylistic experiments Cohen attempted in his second novel make far more sense now. However, having said this I must add that this is the more entertaining and enjoyable work.

This book is about romance. It is always entertaining to hear people talk about love, affection, adoration even fixation as being something only people can have for one another. Lawrence Breavman (the protagonist) feels this way about his life and the many persons and places that populate it. Lisa, Tamara, Shell and the city of Montreal, all are adored by this young man. He loves his best friend Krantz with whom he begins an empassioned dialogue unveiling the many layers of Montreal and Quebecois life oscillating around him in both the city and out in the Laurentian highlands. Breavman truly treats the world as "other." It is beautiful to witness.

There is mysticism in this work. The way Breavman notices the angles of sunlight on his beloved mountain, the colors of the surface of the Saint Lawrence and then the Hudson. The park that he walks through each night and protects. The color of the snow under the moonlight and the sound it gives off when he and a young Lisa are walking home from Hebrew School. Each of these things is as vivid as the young man's search for a partner, for sexual fulfillment. As in Cohen's later work, beauty and grotesqueness and filth coexist and are both the possession of his protagonist's soul. Breavman wanders endlessly through his city (Montreal) taking in every detail he can.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Eric Ziegenhagen on February 22, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Favourite Game is wistful and sentimental (in a good way), well-written, fun to read, and especially evocative in recreating the early 1960's in urban North American and Montreal in particular. It's a coming-of-age novel in the Salinger vein, following a Young Bright Man (too young for the Beats) and his midadventures. This is only Cohen work that could be optioned for the movies (and succeed as a movie, too). Not as heartbreaking as Cohen's other work, more straightforward than Beautiful Losers, The Favourite Game is arty entertainment that's worth taking on the train or to the beach. (And cheap, too!)
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By julia genevieve polyck on July 31, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This novel is charming, and is a must-read for any Cohen fan, whether fanatical or merely curious. It reads like well-wrought and sophisticated free-verse poem, but is highly novelistic in its content. What is presumed to be misogyny by Cohen's critics is made to feel, if not natural, then reasonable, and understandable. Readers are invited in to his self-explication and self-exploration; he carries us through a maquette of his youth and his young-adulthood. (Remember, he wrote this when he was in his late twenties.) He may be criticized for romanticizing his past, but any such faltering from the truth is attributable to his writing style, and that he changed some details for novelistic reasons (it is not intended to be an actual autobiography). Those who are familiar with Cohen's lifetime and writings will recognize his "larger than life" persona in this novel, as the protagonist Lawrence Breavman, as a near-replica of Cohen's self, a self that is the self that Cohen enjoys painting for his readership via his writing and interviews. This novel presents an interesting view of a famous person's understanding of who he is, and of his personal philosophies.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Oana Uiorean on August 2, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
As a woman in her mid-twenties this has been quite a revelation for me. It has opened my eyes in so many ways with regard to men and their nature, and I mean this in a kind and tender way. Growing up I have passed myself through many of the stages that Lawrence is going through, from the sexual awakening to the loss of spiritual innocence, yet the occasional paragraphs to which I cannot instantly relate make for the key to the enigmatic difference between man and woman. A must for any passionate of human nature.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Bill R. Moore on May 2, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a book that few people other than Leonard Cohen would ever dare to write -- or even be able to imagine; especially in the early 60's -- but which, for him, is a fairly straight-forward work. Much more literal and novelistic than Beautiful Losers, Cohen's second novel, and far less obscure than most of his poetry, The Favorite Game is the ideal entry point into Cohen's writing. Cohen write very provocative, very beautiful, highly lyrical poetic prose that is not for everyone. Some will be turned off by the frequent use of allusion and metaphor and the not-always-linear narrative structure; however, for those who like literate, poetic writing, Cohen is a goldmine. Whereas Beautiful Losers and much of his later poetry is very abstract, The Favorite Game is a novel in a traditional and familar form -- the coming-of-age of a young man -- but done in a highly unique and endearing fashion. The language used in the novel is strikingly beautiful, and uniquely Cohen. His writing is of a style that I can only describe as the mastery of Joyce crossed with the eroticism of Miller. He is very frank and candid about sexual matters; but, unlike those two authors, he writes about it in such a way that it is erotic as well as artful and beautiful. The book is also very funny in the uniquely Cohen way -- drier than a bone. Like most of Cohen's works, this is highly autobiographical, and most of us -- certainly those who have experienced either side of love -- will be able to identify with much of it. One might even call it the Canadian Catcher In The Rye, although its literacy and pretentions to high artfulness render it less transcendent than that American masterpiece. Still, for all Cohen fans, this is an absolute must; for readers unfamilar with or curious about the author, it is the ideal place to start.
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