Photo of Montreal by used under a Creative Commons license.
Leonard Cohen, Beautiful Losers (Vintage, 1993).
In his piece on Montreal for the Salon Literary Guide to the World, David Mezmozgis writes:
The novel is structured around a scholarly and erotic fixation with the virgin Algonquin saint, Catherine Tekakwitha, whose name graces Montreal’s central thoroughfare, the rue Ste. Catherine — now home to hookers, strip clubs and gleaming franchise stores. Cohen’s novel, like Montreal, is a mixture of the sacred and the profane, where a fanciful description of Montreal’s first Mass . . . is followed by a graphic description of a fabled Mohawk sex cure. There is much in the book about the Indians who lived along the primeval shores of the St. Lawrence (the Onandagas, Hurons, Mohawks and Abenaki) — their allegiances, their conflicts, their mating customs, and their preferred methods of killing and torturing missionaries. All of it is lovingly rendered and some of it even appears to be true. Cohen’s plot also incorporates the separatist fervor that gripped Quebec in the 1960s and that, to a great extent, grips it to this day. Montreal, of course, has always been the sole object of contention. Canadians would have bid adieu to Quebec a long time ago if the separatists weren’t so adamant about taking Montreal with them. Neither side, naturally, can bear to part with a city that stays open all night, whose cafes are brimming with action, and where the drinking age is 18. . . .
I am unfamiliar with Leonard Cohen, but it seems that people either love him or hate him.
Cohen’s site has this bio. Suzanne Snider writes about Cohen’s career. This seems to be a comprehensive fan site. And here’s a forum for his fans. Reactions seem to be love or hate, without much in between. Here is Eric Mader-Lin. Desmond Pacey is a fan. Editor Eric is not. Chris McLaren has audio files of Cohen reading passages from the book in 1966. Here are 70 things you may not know about Cohen. Here is an academic paper by Nicole Markotic on the influence of telephones in the book. The CBC’s digital archives lets you watch the mixed reactions the book received on publication in 1966.