Having begun my discovery of the N-side of Leonard Cohen with his sophomore novel, the sensuous and polymorphic "Beautiful Losers", I picked up The Favorite Game with lively curiosity.
I was expecting an interesting but not completely focused book, while I soon found myself caught in the charming cobweb drawn by its author.
Let's put it straight: this is a novel in which Mr.Cohen wrote down a sensational hagiography of himself.
Whatever his literary alter-ego Lawrence Breavman does, he manages to claim attention despite of his apparent lack of interest for getting a position in his native Montreal or elsewhere.
Lawrence Breavman writes poetry, plays guitar, but above all screws suffragettes and traps for women without any intermission. In fact it's extremely hard if not impossible ignoring the sexual side and meaning of this novel.
Thirty-four years are passed by since Cohen proclaimed his own "death of a ladies' man" (a sarcastic reference to Arthur Miller, I guess) and what this "Favorite Game" is if not the debaucherous "life of that ladies' man?
But this is where Leonard shows his mastery. We feel simpathy for this Lawrence Breavman who spends his time either mucking around or seducing (and then leaving) women despite of his unbearable self-confidence, his snobbery, his revulsion for those who don't match with his aesthetic and intellectual canons.
That's why, as a reader, I was even touched when Breavman chases after another good looking woman for the umpteenth time having no doubt about feelings that he actually never shows in the whole book. At the same time I was surprised not to feel any anger or hatred for the astonishing negligence the same Breavman displays later on as an indifferent camp counselor.
This book marks out the victory of an artistic temper over a practical life. It is not only Cohen's early years biography, disguised as fiction, but above all his behavioural manifesto.
Those who are not familiar with Leonard Cohen as a songwriter should definitely give The Favorite Game a chance. As for the dedicated followers of the Montreal minstrel, I do think that this novel is more accessible than "Beautiful Losers". Here we have a Cohen who walks on his dearest ground, without flying too high and too far.