"[F[ind a little saint and fuck her over and over in some pleasant part of heaven, get right into her plastic altar, dwell in her silver medal, fuck her until she tinkles like a souvenir music box, until the memorial lights go on for free, find a little saintly faker like Teresa or Catherine Tekakwitha or Lesbia, whom prick never knew but who lay around all day in a chocolate poem, find one of those quant impossible cunts and fuck her for your life, coming all over the sky, fuck her on the moon with a steel hourglass up your hole, get tangled up in her airy robes, suck her nothing juices, lap, lap, lap, a dog in the ether, then climb down to this fat earth and slouch around the fat earth in your stone shoes, get clobbered by a runaway target, take the sensless blows again and again, a right to the mind, piledriver on the heart, kick in the scrotum, help! help! It's my time, my second, my splinter of the shit glory tree, police, firemen! look at the traffic of happiness and crime, it's burning in crayon like the akropoliss rose!"
I have just finished reading Leonard Cohen's Beautiful Losers and um, for reasons which may or may not be clear upon reading the above extract, I'm not entirely sure what to think.
I didn't know anything about the book coming into it and I think that's probably a good way to tackle it, although it certainly makes for some surprising and occassionally shocking reading.
The novel centres on a reasonably twisted sort of love triangle between the narrator (who spends most of his spare time wanking into a sock and thinking about dead people when he's not obsessing about long, long dead Mohawk saint Kateri Tekakwitha (who happens to be my confirmation saint, just in case you wanted to know)), his dead wife (whose method of suicide was um... more disturbing than most) and his dead lover/friend, referred to only as 'F'.
The experimental, part Joyecian (Joycian?), part not-writing-just-typing style definitely plays to Cohen's strengths as a lyricist-poet and just about every page is studded with a nice turn of phrase ("what makes the mountainside of maple turn red?") that bears a second read. He has a knack for putting words together. The girl who "lay around all day in a chocolate poem" for instance is a phrase that will stick in my mind.
Buuut the book is by no means perfect. The monologues can turn into rambles. The poetry can turn into a big fat mud pit. Every so often there are a few pages in a row that read as though they were written while Cohen was quite mind blowingly high. Which he may well have been but which doesn't necessarily make for interesting writing.
Even so this book is interesting. And mildly disturbing. And fascinating. And frustrating. I lingered for awhile on certain pages and skipped over others altogether. Every so often I had to put the book down just to get another glass of wine or focus on something else that didn't involve reading about a 13-year-old girl's arse. But, faults and obstacles aside, I do feel like it's rather crept into my mind a little bit, which is just about as much as you can ask from a book some of the time.