Saturday, February 04, 2012

Cool Covers 4

A find at a yard sale for $1, perhaps the cheesiest bookcover I own (although Cool Covers 6 might test that premise):

Published by Avon Books ("The Sign of Good Reading") in 1965, this misleading edition makes me wonder what Avon would have produced had they acquired the rights for Beautiful Losers, a book which actually does have pornographic passages.

Beyond the photo, and the American re-spelling of the original title, I'm surprised that the cover copy defines the favourite game as sex.

Of course it is one of the great aspects of the novel that the favourite game remains somewhat ambiguous, but can it really be reduced to sex? This is my reading copy of the novel:

Glad to see that McClelland and Stewart's NCL edition has the proper spelling (but which way will the new German-owned M&S go?). This time the cover image implies that the music industry is the favourite game, although this edition's backcover copy suggests otherwise:

There is humour here, and tenderness, heightened by a shrewd appraisal of the human comedy--where "the favourite game" is love.

I like this interpretation, but what does Cohen himself suggest by the novel's end? In my favourite passage, which concludes the book, Cohen writes:

Jesus! I just remembered what Lisa's favourite game was. After a heavy snow we would go into a back yard with a few of our friends. The expanse of snow would be white and unbroken. Bertha was the spinner. You held her hands while she turned on her heels, you circled her until your feet left the ground. Then she let go and you flew over the snow. You remained still in whatever position you landed. When everyone had been flung in this fashion into the fresh snow, the beautiful part of the game began. You stood up carefully, taking great pains not to disturb the impression you had made. Now the comparisons. Of course you would have done your best to land in some crazy position, arms and legs sticking out. Then we walked away, leaving a lovely white field of blossom-like shapes with footprint stems.

For a history of a similarly misrepresented Canadian "classic", see the Dusty Bookcase on Thomas Raddall's The Nymph and the Lamp here.

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