Friday, February 12, 2016

Beautiful Losers by Leonard Cohen

You cannot even imagine this book being written today. It’s blasphemous, to put is nicely. The narrator wants to sleep with a Christian saint, for God’s sake. He basically cannot think of anything else, other than sex, the memory of him doing it with his dead wife and his dead male friend. Oh, he also talks about the Native Americans (The First Nation People, to be politically correct) in Canada, during the coming of the French. This narrator is a first-rate degenerate, and he is created by everyone’s favourite good guy, Leonard Cohen (Remember, when he croons ‘I’m Your Man’, you believe he is singing only for you, just you!)

Aside from apparent perversity and nihilism, the book is also breathless, and moves between past and present and various things in between, and this all can be very exhausting. It is an obsessive fever dream, with no redemption in sigh.

And in the context of today’s political correctness, you will have a lot of problem. (These is a rape sequence in the beginning of the book, which is disturbing in worse possible way, not just the description, the how the narrator inserts his own perversity into the retelling!)

But, stick to it, and it has its rewards. The book is erudite. Though the whole thing runs like a long rant, by the end of it, you have the feeling Cohen knew what he was doing. And he did it well. Sometimes perversity is good.

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