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The Death of Bunny Munro by Nick Cave

September 9, 2010

I am a Nick Cave fangirl (Grinderman in Seattle ticket in hand) so it pains me to write this review. I finally read The Death of Bunny Munro (after reading Cave’s first novel And the Ass Saw the Angel), all the while wondering if I would be blinded by fangirlness and have trouble objectively reviewing it. I struggled with And The Ass, because I wasn’t sure if I liked it because it was good, or because it was written by Cave.

Well, I can say with certainty about Bunny Munro that I don’t like it. I am not trying to compensate for my propensity for lauding Cave by calling this a crap book. Damn, girl, the only reason I kept reading it is because it was written by Cave. I guess I also liked the dust-jacketless cover (it’s neon pink!) and ultimately was curious how Bunny was going to die. It wasn’t so bad that I am going to write Cave and ask for compensation for the hours of my life lost.

Bunny Munro follows the titular character, a door-to-door salesman, disintegrate into a (dead) mess of a man. Bunny’s got a sexy quiff, a silly nickname, a ghost wife, a kid he has no idea what to do with, and a raging hard-on. The last thing is important, because Bunny sells his lotions and sprays—to lonely women—with his sex appeal. During his marriage and after, it doesn’t matter: the man tries to sleep with most women (moving or not). Part of the reason I didn’t enjoy the novel is because there’s nothing to particularly like about Bunny. Sure, he was funny, at first. But then he became depraved and neglectful. Well, maybe he didn’t become that; he was always depraved and neglectful, but he was able to hide it. At any rate, I just didn’t care about Bunny. So I didn’t really care about the events leading to his death; I didn’t care to read about the women he’d roofie; I didn’t care to read about how he neglected his young son (who, of course, thought he was the most fabulous father in the world). In short, Bunny is too pathetic of a character for me to give a damn about. I didn’t like him, I didn’t empathize; hell, I didn’t even get that mad at him. All of his behavior seemed par for his course.

In some ways Bunny reminded me of a novel Chuck Palahniuk might write: Cave constantly discusses Bunny’s erection (ooh, you know, that shock factor), there are some unlikable characters (but plenty who want to be loved), and the concept is moribund. But there wasn’t a payoff, and I didn’t ever stop and think.

Was there a theme? I couldn’t connect to it in any way. It was hollow. I can’t recommend this book, for there was nothing that captured me. Read it, though, and tell me if you get it.

KK

Next up is sci-fi classic Dhalgren, often referred to as difficult. Exciting!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. harlequin permalink
    September 10, 2010 2:45 am

    I don’t think Cave meant you to like Bunny. It was a portrait of the disintegration of an extremely self-centred and selfish man. Brilliantly realised and darkly humourous; the way I like my humour. I loved this story. Better than The Ass and certainly more accessible.

    • September 10, 2010 1:23 pm

      I agree with you on that point, that Cave didn’t mean for the reader to like Bunny. I did, almost, feel sympathy for him (until he did something stupid). I suppose the toying of my emotions that way was effective; I did feel something for the asshole.

      I didn’t like the story, but I can see how the concept makes a good novel. Well, I think this would have been more effective as a short story. As a novel, though, I think it was completely pointless (and damnit, I’m always trying to find some point or theme, and I didn’t feel guided towards one).

      But I can understand how it has its fans. I normally am a fan of dark humor, too. Perhaps there was just one too many Avril Lavigne references 😉

      Thanks for the comment!

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