Review: "Beautiful Losers" by Leonard Cohen

Essay by KrnHigh School, 11th grade February 2007

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To me, Leonard Cohen has always been the singing and song-writing old guy, but when I found out he has written also a few novels in the 1960's, I knew I had to become acquainted with his books too, when being a big fan of his music. Before reading "Beautiful Losers" I had read through a few poetry books of his and was extremely fascinated of the heavy sensual style, word play and interpersonal themes. I was quite certain his novels couldn't be any worse, so I decided to give it a studious try.

Ever since the first pages, the book lured me into the depths of stream of consciousness, relationships, human sexuality and lovable madness. It's a tragically beautiful story tied to the political movements of the time, narrating about the cruel fate of Indians and Canada's history.

The grieving narrator aches the reader with sadness. He's suffering because of the deaths of his two closest friends and lovers.

He reaches back into his memory and tries to escape their deaths by exploring the life and death of Catherine Tekakwitha, the 17th-century Mohawk saint, whose life he obsessively investigates. It seems like there's no way out of the sadness and pain, but only the madness of losing remains in the end.

The book is devoted exclusively to four characters. Three of them - the narrator, his Aboriginal wife Edith and his lifebelong "friend" - struggle in a love triangle. The fourth character worth mentioning is the mentor "F".

"Good" and "best" would do nicely for Beautiful Losers, but there are many more adjectives to describe this masterpiece: disturbing, vulgar, sickening, rhapsodic and maliciously witty, for instance. This novel is like no other. The stream of consciousness, the theme, the characters, the word play, the use of...