Jonathan Schildbach's Reviews > Beautiful Losers

Beautiful Losers by Leonard Cohen
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's review
Feb 05, 2012

really liked it
Read from February 05 to March 23, 2012

A review from the 'Boston Sunday Herald' that is excerpted on the book jacket references James Joyce and Henry Miller. And that is probably as apt a description of this book as you will get, what with its combination of religion, politics, and sex. Overall, the book is remarkable in being able to carry off the complicated, sort-of-intertwined stories that shift back and forth in time as well as tone (serious to humorous, academic to free-flowing). It is incredibly ambitious--doing anything that could be compared to Joyce is necessarily ambitious--and few could reach so close as Cohen does here. That said, there are passages that come across as dated--a little too mid-60s to maintain those Joycean heights, and others that become a tad too perversely humorous, perhaps even for Miller (although I must admit to being rather remiss in my lack of familiarity with Miller--something for my "to read" lists, I suppose).

"Beautiful Losers" is not for everybody--it is not a straightforward story told in any kind of direct manner. But it is rewarding in the beauty of the language, and Cohen's ability to relay the story more through emotional impressions and scenes than in a direct narrative.

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