The Death of Bunny Munro

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The Death of Bunny Munro By Nick CaveBunny Malone is, quite simply, a sex-mad cosmetics salesman who, when his long-suffering wife commits suicide, embarks on a road trip (albeit through suburban East Sussex) with his precocious, and at the same time naive, son, Bunny Jnr.

The lead character couldn’t be more aptly named: Bunny senior gets it on with the women of suburbia – the teenage mothers, the bored housewives, the hollow-eyed heroin-hungry prostitutes – while his son sits (sometimes) patiently in the car, reading his encyclopaedia and memorising the capitals of every nation on earth.

Perhaps because he is more of a caricature than a real person, Bunny manages to maintain a degree of likeability in spite of his undeniable awfulness. Indeed, “The Death of Bunny Munro” is a brilliant combination of inky black comedy and pure tenderness. There’s an incredible amount of warmth around the relationship between Bunny senior and his doting son, yet this is a man whose mind is constantly distracted by thoughts of Avril Lavigne’s vagina.

Cave, the elder statesman of the alternative music scene, can get away with such scenes – his description of Kylie’s “Spinnin’ Around” video as “an orgiastic paean to buggery” is not something every author could get away with – and many of these characters inhabit the same world as those found in his lyrics (I found this particularly close to Cave’s Grinderman project). There are laugh out loud moments and there are plenty of them but the middle-aged salesman’s thoughts directed at (often very) young girls is more disturbing and sits uncomfortably alongside the more comedic aspects.

Cave paints an evocative picture of the seediness and squalor of Brighton and its environs: the piss-stinking stairwells of council flats, shabby hotels, greasy spoon cafes. Cave finds ugliness everywhere which makes the horrible behaviour of the unlikely lothario less sordid when seen against this grim backdrop. Cave, an Australian by birth but a long-time resident of the UK, captures a sense of Englishness with considerable skill but the occasional Americanisms that crop up from time to time are jarringly incongruous.

Not for the easily-offended, “The Death of Bunny Munro” is a dramatic and dark Bacchanalian road trip through Brighton’s suburbs, a very English “Fear and loathing in Las Vegas” if you like, or Will Self without the mind-boggling vocabulary. A side plot provides an unnecessary distraction and serves to convince that this would have been better conceived as a novella than a full novel. You can look at this, cave’s second literary outing, on so many levels and dissect its complexities ad nauseam; this reader found it, for the most part, deliciously dark and compelling. A gloriously irreverent read.

The Death of Bunny Munro” by Nick Cave, Paperback 288 pp, Canongate Book, June 2010

Thanks to Canongate Books for providing a free review copy of the book.

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Death of Bunny Munro (The)
by Nick Cave

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Written by Mary Bor
Mary Bor

Aspiring travel writer and avid Yugophile living in the UK and Slovenia. Loves (in no particular order) Scandinavian crime fiction, Indian food, walking, scavenging, Russian dolls

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