Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Favourite Game ” as Want to Read:
Blank 133x176
The Favourite Game
Leonard Cohen
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Favourite Game

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  2,865 Ratings  ·  197 Reviews
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 f ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 223 pages
Published January 1st 1970 by New Canadian Library (first published 1963)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-45)
Rating details
Sort: Default
It's been over 10 years since I read Cohen's Beautiful Losers and I really don't remember much besides, well, a vibrator. I wasn't sure what to expect from this book? What will the favorite game turn out to be? Does it involve a vibrator?

This is a semi-autobiographical, coming-of-age novel about Montrealian (is that a thing? let's call it a thing) Lawrence Breavman who, from a rather young age, is fairly obsessed with sex. Or, I don't know, maybe all boys are, or maybe it's a Canadian thing.

Paul Bryant
Sep 25, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
Leonard Cohen, like the artist at various times known as Prince, likes to fuse God and sex together, so that for him shagging is like Communion is for Catholics, and he shares this view with crazy cult leaders and holy lechers throughout history, as can be seen in songs like Hallelujah (check out what that holy dove is up to), Dance Me to the End of Love (one of my top favourites) and his other - wilder - weirder - better - far more disgusting - novel Beautiful Losers.

In this first novel he give
Nov 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Kada spava, svaki covek je samo dete!

Iskreno, nisam nikad bila fan Koena ali me je zainteresovalo da procitam njegov prvi roman i moram priznati da sam se prijatno iznenadila. Pise na jako dopadljiv nacin, ima lepe opise i drzi paznju do samog kraja.
Dec 27, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As can be confirmed from the recently released biography of Leonard Cohen I’m Your Man, The Favourite Game is a semi- autobiographical work. Humour is something most people don’t associate with Leonard Cohen but this book has it (mostly in the first part). What I first found striking about the book was the short chapters, more like vignettes almost like poems connecting the dots of the story. Not having grown up in 1950’s Canada I can only guess that Cohen’s depiction of it during Breavman’s chi ...more
Ilyhana Kennedy
Feb 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is the reason why I give less than five stars to so many others.
Exquisitely written, it allows the reader an insight into the life experiences of a brutally self-involved person.
The central character Breavman lives in a world of his own creation, a world of "expectation". He lurches from one whim to the next and in the process leaves a trail of relationship debris, about which he cares little.
In the sheer genius of his style, Cohen redeems his protagonist from his life of arrogance an
Aug 21, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Shell was genuinely fond of him. She had to resort to that expression when she examined her feelings. That sickened her because she did not wish to dedicate her life to a fondness. This was not the kind of quiet she wanted. The elegance of a dancing couple was remarkable only because the grace evolved from a sweet struggle of flesh. Otherwise it was puppetry, hideous. She began to understand peace as an aftermath."

Out of print, bitches. Find your own copy.
Laura Leaney
Jan 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: Beebe's Book Club
This book – a kind of sexual bildungsroman of the young man Leonard Breavman (Leonard Cohen) – is gorgeous and rather appalling simultaneously. To be formally accurate it’s written in the stream-of-consciousness style, but it’s bolder than that. The point of view is third person, but so close to Breavman’s consciousness as to give me the odd effect of perceiving things from two places at once. The images at the onset of the novel required some effort as I read because they leap from the death of ...more
Matej Vidaković
Ne sramim se priznati kako sam "Divne gubitnike" Leonarda Cohena počinjao čitati dva puta. Prvi put sam odustao od tog aluzivnog postmodernog kaosa punog seksa, prošaptanih molitvi i pritajene želje za vječnim spasenjem. Kad sam roman, pak, uzeo drugi puta - progutao sam ga u jednom dahu. To je bilo TO. I dan-danas mi je to jedan od najdražih romana, jedan od onih čije mjesto ne možeš objasniti drugima koliko god se trudio. Kakve to veze ima sa "Omiljenom igrom" (inače, prvim Cohenovim romanom)? ...more
Mark Drew
Lawrence Breavman, you are, in actuality, a misogynist, a user and a taker and your ultimate fate is briefly noted within the same grey colored future as you left your mother and deserted your friend and lovers.

I have no real summary review of this book - what it does is remind me again of the wisdom of Shakyamuni in the Upajjhatthana Sutta:

"'I am subject to aging, have not gone beyond aging.'

"'I am subject to illness, have not gone beyond illness.' ...

"'I am subject to death, have not gone beyo
Oct 25, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sophia Park
I was talking with my philosophy teacher about stream-of-consciousness fiction. We both agreed it was a frustrating format, because, as he put it, "it was too self-indulgent."

Enter Leonard Cohen, brilliant poet and musician. His books are blatantly too much of a good thing -- because if you want 330 pages of his poetic comparisons, you must have some kind of infinite tolerance. It took forever to finish because it was just so odd to go through; it was vaguely chronological, but felt almost above
Ana  Vlădescu
It isn't often we meet someone who has the same vision of what we might be as we have for ourselves.

I have really enjoyed this work. Cohen seems to write prose the same way he would write poetry, but without pressing Enter at the end of a line. I liked the main character and his struggles and I loved the way the book seemed easier to read in the beginning, harder in the middle, and then easy again towards the end, because that speaks volumes about a character's life. I enjoy Cohen's poems (and
Jan 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: roman, poesie, english
A few years ago, I read Beautiful Losers and was impressed by its beauty. It took me a while to come to Leonard's other novel, because sometimes when a poet you love has written only two novels, you want to take your time to be finished with his literature. Now that I had a bit of spare time I came to the Favourite Game, and it fed me, I was dry inside and didn't know it, and it gave me poetic energy and the desire to write again, and I did. I think that the most beautiful books deliver inspirat ...more
Stacy LeVine
Feb 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is imperfect. Immature. It's a misogynist screed in search of the novel within it. At times, the book utterly infuriated me. (At many times, actually.) Most of the time, it turned me on in a guilty sort of way. I don't like the feeling of arousal during my morning commute, and I never lusted for the narrator. If anything, I yearned to smack his face.

But, ultimately, I really like this little scrap of early Leonard Cohen. It brought me as close to my own mother's experience of growing u
Apr 03, 2009 marked it as didn-t-finish  ·  review of another edition
I tired to read this book for a second time and again I couldn't make it past the first 10 pages.

Leonard Cohen is one of my top 5 favorite music list, but I don't like his prose at all.

All of the literature in the James Joyce style of "steam of consciousness" or whatever you call it... when the text tries to confuse you... no, it doesn't cut it with me. Though I can't say Cohen's text in this book was incoherent... you just get the feeling immediately that it's more about the writer than about
Brian Baker
Mar 12, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Ok, I only got halfway through this so maybe it's a bit unfair to give it a one-star rating, but I couldn't sustain my interest in this book. It's a good job he took up music in my opinion - a three minute drone is pleasant enough, but over a hundred pages of it palls horribly. Sincerely B. Baker
Susan Armstrong
Jul 23, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
longest read ever of a short book. The Globe and Mail compared it to Catcher in the Rye. I think not.
Some pretty incredible imagery and language unfortunately mired by misogyny in what is essentially a young man's coming of age story established around an enumeration of his sexual conquests.
Melissa D'andrea
I respect Leonard Cohen but I was so bored with this book and felt it lacked a plot. Didn't help that the protagonist was extremely unlikable.
It's the crapshoot of prose written by a poet: parts break your heart, other parts fail to keep your attention.
Chiara (Lothìriel)
Sul retro del libro ho trovato questo commento, di Calgary Albertan, che ho letto solo chiudendolo alla fine della lettura, perché di solito snobbo le citazioni riguardo i romanzi: "Il gioco preferito è uno di quei rari libri assolutamente unici, che da soli fondano un genere".

Credo che la definizione "assolutamente unici" sia la perfetta sintesi del romanzo di Leonard Cohen. E' stata una lettura strana, altalenante, che all'inizio non era riuscita a coinvolgermi e a prendermi, ma che non ha mai
e così un editore rifiutò all'epoca questo "il gioco preferito" definendolo "una prolungata e noiosissima storia d'amore di cohen con se stesso".
mica aveva tutti i torti. intendiamoci, quella che fa leonard cohen non è narrativa: è poesia, e come ogni poeta cohen, tramite il suo quasi doppio lawrence breavman, cerca la bellezza ovunque, nell'amicizia, nei momenti che fissano per sempre nella memoria l'adolescenza, nelle donne, nella loro bellezza e nel loro mistero, nella musica, nella divina fo
This is the coming of age story of Lawrence Breavman, the son of bourgeois parents from Westmount. Lawrence struggles to find his way between the women in his life and his poetry. As I read the book, I could see from the lyrical descriptions of the city of Montreal the deep love he felt for the place he called home.
May 15, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Di solito si vorrebbe sempre parlare bene degli autori che ci piacciono o addirittura amiamo e, proprio per questo, l'occhio può tendere a essere più benevolo rispetto ad altri che ci sono sconosciuti.

Leonard Cohen è, per quanto mi riguarda, un grandissimo artista con una capacità unica di esprimere immagini ed emozioni in musica; ammetto, però, che fino a pochi anni fa ignoravo totalmente il fatto che prima di comporre e cantare avesse intrapreso (o tentato) la strada della scrittura, attravers
Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Disclaimer: I'm a huge Leonard Cohen fan. He's my favorite musician, by far. Just letting the bias be known. Hence my praise, despite some of my qualms with this book. Because his words break me with their beauty.

Here, Cohen is the ultimate poetic voyeur. He commits the common iniquity of regarding women as Mystery, simply because they are women, rather than individual, complicated people whose perspectives and inner lives are as real and valid as his own. It's a sin most Surrealists fall into a
Aug 15, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1900-1969, prose
Cohen's prose is generous yet contained, and so exquisitely evocative and sensual that reading The Favourite Game in a short period of time, as I did, in just over five hours, begins to feel much like the hours-long embrace of passionate young lovers, punctuated by fevered outbursts of raw sexuality. Putting the book down, at its end, feels like one last tight hug and tender kiss at a door, before the young lovers lose one another for an unthinkable, no matter how short, time.

The easy way to ta
Jul 06, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-read-lit, lit
Really liked it the first time I read it, but I have more mixed feelings now. There are some really beautiful passages, and others that scream 'this is my first novel'. Most of the really good ones are at the beginning, when Our Protagonist is a kid, and then to a lesser extent again at the end. Cohen links some images and rapidly jumps chronologically in a way that creates this really effective choppiness. But as it progresses he gets more showy in a way that isn't as effective, and so much of ...more
Jan 15, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lawrence Breavman is a child, then a youth, then something a little older. Lawrence Breavman is a student, a lover, a seeker. But mostly Lawrence Breavman is just really fucking intense.
The novel unfolds in discrete imagistic scenes. The writing's very, forlackofabetterword, poetic: it reaches constantly and often ostentatiously toward beauty, transcendence, etc. There's a bit of a tendency to aphorism, with results that are pretty if not always earned. Beauty, achieving beauty, holding on to be
Mar 06, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
A novel of dialogue and memory in which a young man tells his lover about his experiences growing up in Montreal. Some of those experiences seem embarrassingly intimate, and even if the young man does not tell his lover about them, the third person narrator describes them for us, the readers. The narrator mentions “scars” early in the novel and this suggests a possible metaphor for the text, which combines sexual experimentation, violence and adolescent consciousness in a way that frequently see ...more
Lucas Rafael
Jan 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Brincadeira Favorita é um livro envolvente, que incomoda e instiga com sua narrativa caótica e poética.
A misoginia que citei anteriormente é menos um ódio e mais uma adoração do feminino provinda do medo do personagem por conhecer a si mesmo, que o leva a mergulhar em corpos e versos, cada qual se retroalimentando e fortalecendo suas delusões e desilusões.
Essa aspecto egoísta se apresenta até para com o amigo que, tendo crescido, deixou de atender às suas expectativas de conversas espirituosas
May 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"She went to sleep and he opened his eyes in the black and his room was never emptier or a woman further away. He listened to her breathing. It was like the delicate engine of some cruel machine spreading distance after distance between them. Her sleep was the final withdrawal, more perfect than anything she could say or do. She slept with a deeper grace than that with which she moved."

"Here is my poem for you.
I don’t know you, Anne.
I don’t know you, Anne.
I don’t know you, Anne."


Aug 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This could get a little gushy...Being a huge fan of Leonard Cohen, imagine my joy when Jade found this book at the library. Imagine also my nervousness at starting it - would it meet my (very high) expectations or would I struggle to find something to admire? It felt a little like a first date.

It seems fitting then that, once embarked upon, the experience of reading this felt like a wonderful seduction, each word chosen with such care, that had me falling in love with Leonard all over again. A c
Dane Cobain
Oct 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not to be confused with the (quite frankly awesome) song of the same name by The Cardigans, The Favourite Game is singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen's first novel, and boy, does it set a high standard. In fact, I'm inclined to think of it as Cohen's best, and it's certainly my personal favourite.

It's also a difficult book to classify - Cohen's fluid prose often resembles poetry in its style and form, and there are elements of the manuscript that are autobiographical. It has a story behind it, too -
Anne-Marie Chicoine
"One day what he did to her would enter his understanding with such a smash of guilt that he would sit motionless for days, until others carried him and medical machines brought him back to speech.
But that was not today."
And that was not this novel. It was a story of hurt and carelessness. Breavman stomped from Montreal to New York to the Laurentians with no considerations for the women he was using and with a determination to sever all of his ties with the things he loved, desperate to disconn
Jodi Lu
I love Leonard Cohen so much, but not so much that he can do no wrong, and he does some wrong here. There is stunning poetry in this prose, as you'd expect (or maybe you'd expect nothing of a short paperback it took me over two YEARS to finish), but it's VERY heavy-handed (as one might also expect). When you are enjoying the sting of being artfully hit, he hits you again too soon, too much, too deliberately, and then you get calloused, and dizzy, and disinterested ultimately. It is very good, bu ...more
Thomas Olsen
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
En bog jeg er lidt i tvivl om. Jeg tror den får en stor del af sin værdi ud fra det kendskab, jeg har til den senere Cohens tekstunivers.
Hvis jeg ser på den alene er det en slags beat-bog og en dannelsesroman med fokus på kroppen.

Hovedpersonen er ikke specielt sympatisk, og det tror jeg er meningen (den skulle jo være delvist selvbiografisk). Vi følger ham fra barn til ung og følger ikke mindst hans krop og seksuelle erobringer. Han kæmper sort set for hvordan han kan få tilfredsstillelse samt

ho fatto fatica a leggerlo. e non ho capito perché fin quasi alla fine: mi piaceva, era intenso e pensieroso, problematico come piace a me. troppo, ecco. i pensieri di un capitolo concentrati in una frase per volta, compressi. per leggerlo veramente ci vuole la concentrazione di dieci pagine in ogni riga, e io così faccio fatica.
come dopo aver letto troppo coupland, mi sono convinto che c'è qualcosa di malinconico, nel canada. un paese troppo grande per avere un'unica anima, con le città troppo

Apr 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Overall a nice read"

Hectic work commitment and schedule had pulled me away from enjoying a work of fiction for quite a long while. The Favourite Game was a great re-introduction to reading, my long time passion.

The beautiful first chapter tasted like poetry, rich and delicate. A novel by a poet, I was impressed. Then the book took a different turn. It had become a coming of age story following the common journey of sexual exploration by the main character with indeterminate personality.

Just w
Jan 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I understand this was the second of Leonard Cohen's pre fame(well at the level he would be known) and one I found in a charity shop quite recently.
It is quite difficult reading a novel by someone known so much for another discipline without comparing the two but as Cohen's background was poetry and as a musician he still remained amongst our more literate performers this just feels like a welcome addition to the Canon of work he left.
In style it is unmistakably Cohen inasmuch as it is a very per
Aug 21, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Oh my God I hated this book. It was so obnoxious. I picked it up because I am looking for novels set in Montreal, and I thought, hey, Leonard Cohen wrote a novel? I like Leonard Cohen.
I had to remind myself a lot that I like Leonard Cohen. Pretty much the whole book I was thinking I hated Leonard Cohen, and then reminding myself that he was in his 20s, he was so young, he decided to concentrate on music, he made the right decision. The trouble is, the main character is clearly supposed to be Co
Read this over the holiday weekend, which was good as I think it would have been a bit of a struggle without some dedicated time to allow me to keep the story alive. Not an easy read, about not very likeable characters. I was intrigued by the dust cover which described it as one of the 10 best Canadian novels of the 21st century...what are the other 9...
Mar 20, 2008 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
This is on my bedside table because it was recommended by Alan, a bookseller at Waterstones in Islington, who seemed from his other picks to have good taste. And I've always had a soft spot for Leonard Cohen. Soft like a spreading bruise...
Aug 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love the structure of this book, with short chapters and strong ideas all over it.
Nov 03, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
I read this more as an exercise as Leonard Cohen is one of my favourite singer/songwriters. The early section of the book was quite interesting but I found the latter portion was difficult. This may have been another of those books which was 'avant-garde' in 1971 but slightly passé now. It also may have appealed more to men than women.

It also may be that the current climate with so many 'me too' revelations of men taking advantage of women has left me angry with the way some men treat women. Eve
Maria Hardie
Jun 03, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Little happens. One of many books with rich shallow character who can't make relationships. Just for a on about bodies. Rubbish. Like Leonard's music & voice though.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Various Positions: A Life of Leonard Cohen
  • Joshua Then and Now
  • Barometer Rising
  • Such Is My Beloved
  • The Fire-Dwellers
  • Not Wanted On The Voyage
  • The Dutch Wife
  • The Studhorse Man
  • What We All Long For
  • Rhyming Life and Death
  • Man Descending: Selected Stories
  • Sombrero Fallout
  • Bear
  • Stigninger og fald
  • Eunoia
  • Tevye's Daughters: Collected Stories of Sholom Aleichem
  • Whylah Falls
Leonard Norman Cohen was 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 in
More about Leonard Cohen...

Fiction Deals

  • War Brides
    $3.99 $2
  • Bluebeard
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Madonnas of Leningrad
    $10.74 $2.99
  • Orphan Train Girl
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Want Not
    $14.95 $2.99
  • Finding Rebecca
    $5.49 $1.99
  • The Twelve-Mile Straight
    $14.99 $2.99
  • The Long Way Home
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Cafe by the Sea
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Everybody's Son
    $12.99 $1.99
  • The Restaurant Critic's Wife
    $3.99 $2
  • The Word Game
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Ahab's Wife, or The Star-Gazer
    $10.74 $1.99
  • Cats Are Weird: And More Observations
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Wake Up
    $4.99 $2
  • The Way to London: A Novel of World War II
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Abby's Journey
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Ask the Dust
    $8.24 $1.99
  • Kings of Broken Things
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Collected Stories of Stefan Zweig
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Saving Abby
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Vanessa and Her Sister
    $13.99 $2.99
  • The King's Mistress
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Midnight Sun (The Northern Lights Series, No 3)
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Cement Garden (Ian McEwan Series Book 2)
    $8.99 $2.99
  • The Book of Love: Poems of Ecstasy and Longing
    $8.24 $1.99
  • Under the Wide and Starry Sky
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen
    $14.95 $1.99
  • The Cove
    $7.49 $1.99
  • The Secret Healer (The Secret Healer #1)
    $3.49 $0.99
  • Fat Chance
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Jailbird
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving
    $15.95 $1.99
  • Mrs. Saint and the Defectives
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Fire by Night
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Bagombo Snuff Box
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Unkillable Kitty O'Kane
    $3.99 $1.99
  • If I Was Your Girl
    $9.99 $2.99
“Children show scars like medals. Lovers use them as a secrets to reveal. A scar is what happens when the word is made flesh.” 493 likes
“As our eyes grow accustomed to sight they armour themselves against wonder. ” 155 likes
More quotes…