Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Death of Bunny Munro by Nick Cave

The Death of Bunny Munro by Australian musician, songwriter, screenwriter and novelist Nick Cave is not for the faint hearted or the easily offended.  I have not included a picture of the unusual book cover because it is somewhat risque.  Have I piqued your interest yet?

The story is about Bunny Munro, a door to door salesman in Brighton England and an absolute womanising bastard.  I have to tell you Bunny is a very well drawn and memorable character.  Off the top of my head the only character I have read this year which was more memorable was Colm Toibin's portrayal of Henry James in "The Master".

Bunny's life is unravelling fast.  He is becoming unhinged.  His usual coping mechanisms aren't working anymore and after his wife commits suicide, largely caused by his own appalling behaviour, he is left to care for his young son, Bunny Junior.  The story is like watching a train wreck in slow motion, and is just about as exhausting.  Everything is catching up with him and he has no where to run.  The narrative is very well written.  The pace does not let up and only increases as Bunny's efforts to hold on become more and more frenzied.  There is a real masculine energy to the flow of the story that strikes me as unusual in literary fiction.  I think the tone of Patrick Suskind's Perfume comes close.  The story is visceral and tragic.  There is a scene towards the end of the book between the three generations of Munro males: Bunny, Bunny Junior and Bunny's decrepit and spiteful father.  It is about as tragic and poignant a scene as I can imagine and will stay with me for some time.

Another theme that is given full rein is guilt.  Earlier this year I read Bliss by  Australian author Peter Carey.  Bliss also focuses on the theme of male guilt but while Bliss starts with the train wreck and moves to some sort of redemption, the tale of Bunny spins from denial to ruin.  The story, which again will not be to everyone's taste, is masterfully put together.  There is not a wasted word.  It is darkly funny at times, and very human at others.  Ultimately for me The Death of Bunny Munro is a modern tragedy, and a very convincing one.  I found it fascinating.

1 comment:

  1. I can't decide if I want to read this or not - Nick Cave is often so dark I'm not sure I really want to go there.....


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