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The Favorite Game

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  3,594 ratings  ·  255 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
Paperback, First Vintage Contemporaries Edition, 248 pages
Published October 14th 2003 by Vintage (first published 1963)
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Feb 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2021
I’m a Leonard Cohen fan but wasn’t aware that he’d written 2 novels until recently. This one is the first and published in 1963 and semi autobiographical. The writing is just wonderful , short chapters, often short sentences but it reads beautifully and though often I didn’t particularly like what Lawrence Breavman, the narrator was saying , I couldn’t look away. He’s quite full of himself, his ambition to be a poet is more important to him than anything and though he loves women/sex he’s often ...more
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
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
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
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
"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
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
Mark Drew
Oct 31, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Apr 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: god-tier
I wanted to review this. I wanted to underline so many passages but it's a library book. I wanted to devour and savour it at the same time, I wanted to review it but everything I say sounds like a slam poem. Glorious, drowsy summertime prose and witty one liners, this book epitomises everything Leonard Cohen has ever meant to me. The Future was the soundtrack to my childhood. Later, drinking red wine on the couch late at night with my dad talking literature listening to hallelujah obnoxiously lo ...more
Melissa D'andrea
Aug 21, 2013 rated it it was ok
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. ...more
Meda Lakkh
Oct 12, 2018 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Jul 06, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: lit, re-read-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
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.
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
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
Apr 03, 2009 marked it as didn-t-finish
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
Stacy LeVine
Feb 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
Brian Baker
Mar 12, 2012 rated it did not like it
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 ...more
Pitchayapa Apithamsoontorn
I just hate this book.
Simply hate it.

Sex. Women. Sex. Women. Sex. Women. ... on loop
boring af

There is a little sense of self-doubt and loss in characters,but just a little of it.

However,it is,indeed,beautiful written.
Jun 07, 2009 rated it liked it
It's the crapshoot of prose written by a poet: parts break your heart, other parts fail to keep your attention. ...more
Maria Hardie
Jun 03, 2012 rated it did not like it
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. ...more
Aleksandar Šegrt
Sep 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
i wonder what kind of literature it would be if he continued writing in his older days..
Susan Armstrong
Jul 23, 2014 rated it did not like it
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. ...more
Jesse Smith
Sep 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me a long time to finish this book. Not because I didn’t enjoy it or thought it bad, but because I found myself having to read the same passages over and over again before the prose sank in. Often it never did. I’m stupid and impatient, but not unappreciative.

The Favourite Game is a series of vignettes of what I suppose were pivotal, sometimes startling moments in Lawrence Breavman’s young life as he transitions into adulthood. Most of these vignettes strip down the feelings of sex, rej
Erin LitAsFunk
Jul 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it

A scar is what happens when the word is made flesh.

It was not too many years before her mother began to exercise the inalienable rights of menopause. She took to wearing a fur coat and sun-glasses in the house at all times. She hinted, then claimed that she had sacrificed a career as a concert pianist. When asked on whose behalf, she refused to reply and turned the thermostat lower.
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read this book a few years after it first came out, i was most likely too young to really appreciate the incredible talent it sprang from. At the time Leonard was a permanent fixture in Montreal and could be seen regularly in certain restaurants and bookstores. I suppose we took him for granted but how sorely we miss him now. The book lays out the foundation of his career as a poet and a ladies' man, he pulled off both with humour and self-deprecation.
Thank you, Leonard.
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.
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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

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