Beautiful Losers.

Ok. So day two and already we, dear readers have encountered our very first problem. By the term ‘readers’ I am of course, thus far, referring only to myself and my friend Jayde who asked earlier today for a link to be sent her way.
The problem being my gawddamnmothafuckin’ Internet connection.
This is not a new problem really, I’ve been wrestling with Optus and their highly skilled USB Dongle department (based in the Philippines– I know, because I asked) for the best part of 12 months now.

So naturally I knew that there would be issues in uploading something on to this here blog every single day.

I have just now, for example, run up and down the four flights of stairs from my apartment to the street to establish an Internet connection. The likelihood of my having to do this several more times in order to upload this single blog is probable, so if nothing else, this venture will render my ass     t o i g h t … Which reminds me to maybe upload this in my lunch break at work next time.

But enough of me, what of Leonard? Well… I recently purchased a copy of his 1966 novel, Beautiful Losers. I was reminded of how much I’d wanted to read this book while watching a documentary about the man in question on Christmas day. You see, Leonard wrote this, his first novel, to my understanding, one summer while living on the Greek island of Hydra. My father was living on the same Greek island at the same time and tells, with great delight, the story of how he came to be employed by Leonard.

My father had acquired a position white-washing houses on the island for the best part of the summer. Leonard then wife, Alexandra hired my father to white-wash their home. Alexandra was then arrested and deported for possession and let’s just say that my old pappa bear never quite found himself with a dinner invite…

Still my fathers stories of this time in his life, and of this island have always seemed really important to me, even as a young girl, I wanted to go there, I wanted to live there; I wanted to know.

At the turn of the millenium, Beautiful Losers was translated in to Chinese and Leonard was approached by the National Chinese Arts Council, I believe (?) to write a forward for the book. This is what he wrote:


Dear Reader,

Thank you for coming to this book. It is an honor, and a surprise, to have the frenzied thoughts of my youth expressed in Chinese characters. I sincerely appreciate the efforts of the translator and the publishers in bringing this curious work to your attention. I hope you will find it useful or amusing.

When I was young, my friends and I read and admired the old Chinese poets. Our ideas of love and friendship, of wine and distance, of poetry itself, were much affected by those ancient songs. Much later, during the years when I practiced as a Zen monk under the guidance of my teacher Kyozan Joshu Roshi, the thrilling sermons of Lin Chi (Rinzai) were studied every day. So you can understand, Dear Reader, how privileged I feel to be able to graze, even for a moment, and with such meager credentials, on the outskirts of your tradition.

This is a difficult book, even in English, if it is taken too seriously. May I suggest that you skip over the parts you don’t like? Dip into it here and there. Perhaps there will be a passage, or even a page, that resonates with your curiosity. After a while, if you are sufficiently bored or unemployed, you may want to read it from cover to cover. In any case, I thank you for your interest in this odd collection of jazz riffs, pop-art jokes, religious kitsch and muffled prayer æ an interest which indicates, to my thinking, a rather reckless, though very touching, generosity on your part.

Beautiful Losers was written outside, on a table set among the rocks, weeds and daisies, behind my house on Hydra, an island in the Aegean Sea. I lived there many years ago. It was a blazing hot summer. I never covered my head. What you have in your hands is more of a sunstroke than a book.

Dear Reader, please forgive me if I have wasted your time.

Los Angeles, February 27, 2000.

Leonard Cohen.

One Response to “Beautiful Losers.”
  1. trafford says:

    Awesome. Every bit the writer I once aspired to be but never was.

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