Monday, November 14, 2016

The Favourite Game by Leonard Cohen


What do I feel about Leonard Cohen’s book? Dream-like, poetic, restless.

Listening to his music, and reading his words, you see him flashing through. Is it fiction, or is it part of him? His deep spring of ideas which flows through in his songs, his book, his poetry. The book is lyrical, rhythmic, poetic, slow, invoking rich images. Still, not heavy, light.

Had started reading this first book of his after reading his profile by David Remnick in New Yorker last month. Since then his songs are on a loop (Apple music playlist - Leonard Cohen Essentials). 

When I first began reading the book, was not very sure whether I wanted to continue it. It felt different than my other readings. It seemed raw, unpolished, dark in certain places, restless, and hence a bit ruffling. I realize, consciously or unconsciously, I avoid dark, loud, or ruffling – something that bothers, questions too much, is uncomfortably unfamiliar or shows scars. And this one felt a bit like that. Was going to leave it alone,...but then I heard about him passing away.

I began it again, with his music in the background. The book is episodic, building up scenes and scenes, dream-like sequences and lots of space to breathe. And you recognize his turn of phrase, his countenance and attitude. Divided in four books, and almost 20 chapters each over 250 pages, it is a delight to read.

The book seems autobiographical. It is not the kind of work I would read often, not a subject matter I would pick up. Also, it is not the kind of person I would read often about. But somehow, in this book, Breavman (the lead) does not come across as revolting. He comes across as a poet, a singer, Leonard Cohen in making. You can almost sympathize. It is not the world view you may have grown up with or approve of, in fact it may be something to be regarded as reproachful in people, but somehow, in an artist, in him, in someone in spite of themselves, it is forgiven.

I have always felt that books by poets are somehow better than those by non-poets. Be it Sylvia Plath or Joseph Brodsky. Or here, Leonard Cohen. The way they use words is lighter, more precise, how to put it best? They say much more in far fewer words. 

Enjoyed reading the book. 

RIP Leonard Cohen. Love your music – and for last few weeks, it has been the background music to my days. I can almost break into ‘Like a bird…’ in supermarkets, in libraries, while K and I have breakfast, while driving, while writing this and while not writing this, gazing out at the clear blue sky and the far away blue sea and mini clouds. It makes everything slower, richer, more peaceful.

‘…I have tried in my way to be free’

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