Beautiful Losers
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Beautiful Losers

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  3,407 ratings  ·  245 reviews
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 eac...more
Paperback, 264 pages
Published April 8th 2003 by McClelland and Stewart- Emblem Editions (first published 1966)
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happy canada day!

i have tried to review this book on four separate occasions. for some reason, this is one of the most diffcult books for me to defend to others and to justify to myself.

on the one hand, it's leonard cohen. enough said.

on the other hand, i can be objective when it comes to him. dear heather is a crap album. there, i said it. i'm sorry, but the world did not need a 9/11 song from him, it is terrible terrible terrible.

on the other hand, it's leonard cohen.

you see my plight? as a pi...more
Okay, this book is mental, and proves Laughing Leonard not just to be the Grocer of Despair as his detractors may have unkindly phrased it, but capable of impressive rudeness and high humour. And then you get exquisite prose poems like the following, which the great Buffy Sainte-Marie extracted and made an incredible song out of. I would say that as one who profoundly believes that if there is a God he clearly has long since got bored with the human race if he ever noticed he'd created us in the...more
MJ Nicholls
Nov 06, 2013 MJ Nicholls marked it as dropped  ·  review of another edition
He sentenced me to twenty pages of boredom.

I feel about her as many of my readers must feel about pretty Negresses who sit across from them in the subway, their thin hard legs shooting down from what pink secrets. (p17)

rolls eyes

Why is it only now, years past, my prick rises up at the vision of her standing there so absurdly painted, her breasts dark as eggplants, her face resembling Al Jolson? (p18)

drops book forever
Lorenzo Berardi
I used to have a problem with Leonard Cohen.
He gave me headache.
This has to be explained.

When I was 5 years old my mum was a teacher in a small nursery school somewhere on the mountains. Having not the money for hiring a babysitter and being myself more or less the same age of her schoolkids I was joining her on Saturdays, when my school was closed.

At that time -1987- most of the Italian radio stations were hard to catch on the mountains we were heading to.
Still, the Fiat Uno of my parents cou...more
Leonard Cohen has always charmed the socks off of me. Beautiful Losers is stunning, intimate, crass and hugely insightful.
Curtis Westman
Decadently filthy, obtuse and unrelenting, Beautiful Losers is characteristically unlike the Leonard Cohen of the early 1960s. Rather than the rhythmic, dulcet poetry and lyrics, the novel is of dense prose that more resembles the beat poetry of Kesey or Ginsberg, encapsulating the loose spirit and free living of the era in which it was written, having been first published in 1966.

Beautiful Losers captures two distinct historical periods and myriad tensions that threaten to tear them apart. In t...more
Eddie Watkins
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

Cunts are a forest of pricks where saints and seekers exchange dirty luminescent fluids in microscopes of madhouses stitched together, and shattered, and stitched together again by tidal sways in the eternal machinery of the ever-loving Mothers.

Inspired farrago? Result of not wearing a hat in the hot Mediterranean sun? Masturbation fantasy of beatitude? Hippy dipshit revolutionary nonsense failing to revolutionize? Jews for Jesus dream of Heaven?

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in...more
I don't know what the hell to say about this book. So I'll talk about the feelings. Sometimes, I had to shut it because it was too nauseating. Sometimes I thought it was delicious, and disgusting. Sometimes my thoughts ran in parallel with it. At one point I declared that it was the best book in all the world because it just good.

I'll try to break it down. This was by far the strangest and most uninhibited thing that I have ever read. I felt as though I had never read a book before. C...more
thank you, mr. cohen, for making me have to get off in the bathroom of muldoon's diner in wolverine, michigan on a road trip to my mom's with my boyfriend and his parents.
There are times when you rate a book one star because they make no sense in how they handle their themes, or a cohesive story, in a responsible, interesting way.

There are times when you rate a book one star because it didn't click with you, but you can respect other people for liking it.

There are times -- okay I have to stop here, because I'll just quote my philosophy teacher instead. "Cohen's laughing at you when you read, this, man! He probably churned it off during some extended hookah sessio...more
Karly *The Vampire Ninja*

My completely random musings on Beautiful Losers, not to be mistaken for my otherwise musings which tend to actually have some through line.

Humans are at their core all animalistic. It is society which shapes us, lacquers us, and tells us to hide those natures like a dirty little secret. This book is completely unapologetically sensual. Completely uninhibited which, amusingly, is probably why I like it so much.

There is way too many microscopic sexual definitions out there. Why is it that we, a...more
Charles Joyce
Leonard Cohen, so often unfairly referred to as the Dylan of the Great North, has a special talent in which he infuses every moment of life with poetry and magic. This novel, a story of a love affiar between a mad, mystic nationalist, a dead Iroquois saint, a recently deceased wife and a broken, lonely man, is beautifully (if not grotesquely) told. Reminicisent of Joyce's wordplay and windin interior monologue, this novel is a tapestry is weaved of sex and regret, hallucinatory buddhist rambling...more
Nov 26, 2007 Empress rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: e. & c. green.
Shelves: willfinishoneday
Oh Leonard, how I love you, but do not so-much love this book. Again, I am letting myself be lazy and file it away to finish in another era, but from what I have read so far, I need to be in more of a sitting-on-a-dirty-rooftop-in-the-rain-drinking-whiskey-and-smoking-cigarettes -sort-of-mood before I can fully appreciate what you've got to offer here.
I love the poems Man, and I love the lyrics, (and I especially love the club, E & C) and though pieces of it are absolutely stunning, I am no...more
Haven Fairfield
Everything is sacred. Nothing is profane. It is a new age concept born out in the sixties and stained with all of that decade's excesses including sex and drugs. Beautiful Losers was published in 1966.

The book jacket tells me this book is about a love triangle lived out in a hell that is an apartment in Montreal. I am not sure that is true. If this is hell, it is not Dante's hell. It is not Sartre's hell. It is a disjointed, incomplete and unfinished hell.

The Catholic Saint Kateri Tekakawitha...more
Lara Messersmith-Glavin
Leonard Cohen often makes me cry. I sat on the floor of a bookstore with my hair streaming rain and collecting the smells of coffee and ink and read his book of poetry, Stranger Music, almost cover to cover, mostly in tears. I heard his words in my head long before I remembered he sometimes sang them; I like his voice, and forget to like his music.

This book was strange - at first I wanted to hate it, to be bored by the leaping into the past and the Algonquins and the endless fucking and wailing...more
Simon Maginn
Impossible to describe or summarise, this is a novel of extraordinary power. Obscene, pornographic, incoherent, sick, Beautiful Losers is all of these, but it is also heartbreakingly beautiful, sad, haunted and elegiac. Much of 60s counter-culture is being rediscovered now, but this does more than any Jack Kerouac or Marshall McLuhan can do, and is more involving, weirder and ultimately more serious. It is about loneliness, freezing weather and a man at the edge of his reason, endlessly mourning...more
It's finally over. I'll admit something about this story of a unnamed narrator, his suicided wife, their mutual friend and lover F. and the long dead but revered in the nameless narrator's memory Kateri Tekakwitha (an actual historical figure) kept me hooked and, at times, moved. But I'll also admit that for every passage in the book that lifted me up with carefully crafted (and often chuckle out loud sarcastically funny) prose, there were elsewhere three or four times that it disappointed by dr...more
I am biased. I can’t be objective when it comes to Cohen. I just can’t.
When I picked up the book, I expected it to be melancholy, spiritual and deep. And at times it is very sad, at times it is spiritual. It’s funny at some parts and grotesque at others. But most importantly, it is bizarre. Leonard Cohen has the amazing gift of talking about shit and making it sound like poetry (which he literally does in this book). So when I’m reading about the “telephone dance”, about animated sex toys that...more

I read this in college, at about the same time as I first gave "Songs Of Love and Hate" a spin.


It's sort of strange to think of it now, having these two bizarre (not a word I take lightly) and manaical texts as my introduction to Sad-Eyed-Lenny of the Lowlands.

I'm now a huge fan and I can't shake the magic spell of his music no matter how hard I try to (I don't try very hard). His music puts me in a trance-state, he's a first run songwriter and a poet with real skill: a unique voice, an exce...more
Sep 04, 2008 Kirstie rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Leonard Cohen, experimental fiction, early Montreal history
Leonard Cohen walks a precarious tightrope balancing the sacred and the profane and, because he is *the* Leonard Cohen, doesn't fall from his great height. At the same time, it is very disjointed and a little unclear. It's an exploration of sexuality but way more than that. Though Beautiful Losers is perhaps Cohen's most well known and highly appraised novel, I liked "The Favorite Game" better. Some memorable quotes from this one:

"Jealousy is the education you have chosen"
"Ordinary eternal machi...more
If Leonard Cohen had not been born with a perverse genius for words and a voice like a noir prophet, he would probably be just a dirty old man.

As it is, though, well, he’s Leonard Cohen, and if that doesn’t mean anything to you there are records you must listen to and words you must transcribe until there are corners of your mind full of god, sex, death and sadness, and obscure, melancholy jokes about all of the above. He’s a bit special like that. He writes hymns that are to both gods and bodie...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.

I "borrowed" an old edition from a bookshelf in the hall of my college's English department. Graduated. Still hadn't finished reading it.

This spring, I finished it on the subway and immediately turned back to the beginning. The second time around, I wrote down all the page numbers of all my favorite excerpts as I went along. I must copy them out at some point.

Before writing this review, I read some others, and sarah said pretty much what I was thinking: "I appreciate this book not for the sum

Tsveta Haydarova
I've read Paul Bryant's review and something just drawn me into the book, I wanted to read it so much! Thank you, Paul.

That book is insane! I hate it and I love it at the same time.
But is probably one of the best books I've ever read.

Cohen is a genius and as Kurt Cobain said : "Give me a Leonard Cohen afterworld so I can sigh eternally."
Incredibly disappointing. I love his song lyrics, but this book is terrible.
I went into this reading fully expecting to give this novel(?)a full five stars ... after all, it's Leonard Cohen! The same Leonard Cohen who penned my all time favorite song 'Hallelujah' AND it was my favorite song BEFORE Jeff Buckley! I mean this is LEONARD COHEN! The same Leonard Cohen who had the good taste to date Joni Mitchell(whom - based on 'Little Green'- I believed to be my mother, despite evidence to the contrary, for a very long time) ... but I digress.

Beautiful Losers. Indeed there...more
This book makes me so wistful. Pre-internet, pre-irony, just sucking a dude off in a rowboat. I couldn't stop reading! Wanders from the material to the mystical without ever losing its sense of humor, and despite all its excesses never loses its humanity. I felt the same way when I read "Les Enfants Terribles" when I was younger, like, here was this sexy book about kissing cousins, so decadent, so apolitical and unnecessary, so why did I like it so much? (Besides the obvious.) Because books like...more
Lil' Grogan
Leonard! I'm not sure if I'm more shocked at all the sex in this book or that he's actually very funny....I think the latter.

Found it difficult and easy to read at the same time. Difficult because of certain forms of the experimental prose, the abundance of sex, the subject matter (particular in regards to the two native women). Easy because a lot of it was very funny, impertinent and there were moments that were beautifully written.

Most of the time I felt I was grasping for the connection bet...more
Sep 29, 2007 Baiocco rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Leonard Cohen Knows Something About Eternity That We Mortals Do Not
Shelves: fiction
You'd think this would be fucking devestating, but it's not. I love Leonard Cohen. Who doesn't? Maybe if he read this to me it would be different, because that deep voice really adds so much to his songs, but I just couldn't get into this save a few passages that were excellent.

Are there songwriters that can be good novelists? Maybe good poets, but most often not. I bet there are a lot of songwriters with ambitions of writing novels, but then they lay those ideas out, and those few passages whi...more
Aug 06, 2008 Jocelyn rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jocelyn by: Inuitdebonair
Shelves: read-in-2008, fiction
My thoughts are everywhere in regards to how I want to write this review. A friend of mine bargained me into reading this, so I went into it with a bit of a bias. I think he influenced me to like it more than I might have otherwise.

Nonetheless, this book is a unique collection of beautiful ramblings regarding love. Disturbing, depressing, obsessive love. It's confusing and complex until the very end when Cohen wraps up all of his little plots. The love in this book is conveyed a lot in relation...more
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Leonard Norman Cohen is a Canadian singer-songwriter, poet and novelist. Cohen published his first book of poetry in Montreal in 1956 and his first novel in 1963.
Cohen's earliest songs (many of which appeared on the 1968 album Songs of Leonard Cohen) were rooted in European folk music melodies and instrumentation, sung in a high baritone. The 1970s were a musically restless period in which his inf...more
More about Leonard Cohen...
Book of Longing Stranger Music: Selected Poems and Songs The Favorite Game Selected Poems, 1956-1968 Book of Mercy

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“Never make a decision when you need to pee.” 210 likes
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