Beautiful Losers by Leonard Cohen, 1966, 243 Pages
Are you ready to revisit the two solitudes, girl? We seem to be back in a similar Montreal to Lullabies for Little Criminals, if a few years earlier, but it follows on the struggles of anglo and francophone Quebec identities that we met in Two Solitudes.
Described as “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.”
Róisín: This book was… unexpected for me? I guess my only previous experience with Leonard Cohen is his poetry. And even though this book is definitely poetic, it’s not what I was expecting from him. (I know its slightly ridiculous to call a 50 year old book “unexpected” but we don’t really tend to look up synopsis or any info/criticism on these books until after we read them). I read this one a few months ago and I have to say that after that distance of time, none of my notes on it make sense. Just a lot of facts about Kateri Tekakwitha from Wikipedia and the question: “Is the treehouse even real though?????”
I am very committed to the grossness of this book. There’s something very Catholic about it, the recounting of a saint’s life side by side with the more scatalogical tangents in the book. Also, is it maybe Joycean? I don’t know guys, I am not an expert, just a reader with no other frame of reference for stream of consciousness novels.
Kathleen: I stand by my review.
Róisín: I’m not really sure if I liked this or not? I went through extremes while reading it and I feel like just as I was really getting into it, a main character was killed off and I was once again disoriented and back to being skeptical about the whole book. Overall, glad I read, I feel like it pushed my personal reading boundaries more than any of the books so far, but at the same time its not gonna be a recommendation from me anytime soon.
Kathleen: JUST KIDDING, NERDS! I think I probably really enjoyed about 40% of this book, and through most of the rest of it I was just hoping to get back to the parts I liked. This book is dense and filthy, and sometimes there are chapters that are just 3 pages like “moon moat face tumble grey chalice” blah blah blah. No thank you! Sorry!
In absence of a less bewildered review, please enjoy this small collage I made for you babes:
VERDICT: Should it be on the 30 before 30?
Róisín: Girl, I am actually undecided on this one.
Kathleen: I’m leaning towards no I think?
NEXT WEEK’S BOOK: The Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro FEATURING SOME SUPER SPECIAL GUESTS