Title: The Favourite Game
Author: Leonard Cohen
Page Count/Review Word Count: 277
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 – unknown and broke in 1959, Cohen was awarded a $2,000 grant which he lived on while working on the novel. Just think – if it wasn’t for that grant and for Cohen’s innovative writing, we’d be living in a world without Hallelujah, Tower of Song and a whole host of other Cohen classics.
For me, The Favourite Game stands out from Cohen’s other works because of the strong characterisation and the way in which Lawrence Breavman so accurately reflects the young author’s own struggle for love, success and excitement. In many ways, it’s also a love story to rival Romeo & Juliet – in the blurb’s own words, “although [Breavman] has loved the bodies of many women, it is only in the arms of Shell that he discovers the potent totality of love and its demands.”
So if you’re looking in to Cohen’s literary output, whether you’re a fan of his music or not, there’s no better place to start than The Favourite Game – it might be his first novel, but it’s also his best.