WHAT IS IT?
The protagonist of Cave’s pleasantly demented second novel, set in England, is living out a porno: door-to-door lotion salesman Bunny Munro spends his days seducing invariably attractive women, servicing both their sexual and moisturizing needs. His wife’s suicide, though, threatens to derail Bunny’s amorous adventures, as he can’t shake the feeling that he might somehow be responsible. Another new obstacle is the need to look after his nine-year-old son, Bunny Jr. In an effort to escape the creepiness of the apartment he shared with his wife, Bunny takes his son on the road, teaching him the ropes of salesmanship. Meanwhile, a man in red face paint and plastic devil horns accosts women in northern England before a murderous turn sends him journeying south. Bunny’s deterioration from swaggering Lothario to sputtering pity case suggests he is carrying around more guilt than he cares to admit, and his obsessive behavior, while a bit of a stretch, allows for an interesting portrait of modern family dynamics. Cave’s bawdy humor, along with a gallows whimsy that will be familiar to fans of his music, elevate the novel from what might otherwise be a one-note adventure.
Nick Caves second novel begins splendidly, with a brimstone-blast of raw and rancid energy, when Bunny arrives home one afternoon in his dreary, Brighton flat on the heels of two extramarital trysts that we are soon to learn are but the tip of the sleaze-berg, to find that his long-suffering, bipolar wife Libby has hung herself-though he cant for the life of himself comprehend why-leaving behind a young son, several-meals-worth of delivery pizzas, and various not-so-cryptic admonishments to Bunny on the matter of his lifelong infidelity.
Its been 20 years since Caves first novel, And the Ass Saw the Angel, two decades of nuanced reinvention and visionary intrepidity, and Bunny Munro has, really, sprouted organically from the mind behind Grinderman.
Caves obsessions, in truth, have often sought new and unexpected ciphers, and Bunny Munro is simply the latest. He has a nine-year-old son, Bunny Junior, a mad and dying father, a clinically depressed wife who commits suicide before you even hit the fifth chapter. He wallows gleefully in the new depths of sordor he excavates.
Bunny has been a bad husband, a bad father and a truly awful salesman, but his shocking lack of self-awareness means he never truly realises what a terrible, treacherous human being he really is. It is you, the reader, who comes to realise he’s unhinged, that his psychopathic tendencies are becoming more and more pronounced, and yet he’s been so sympathetically drawn it’s difficult to hate him.
Cave achieves this measure of pity by painting a much worse character in the form of the “Horned Devil”, a knife-wielding murderer whose trail of death is being reported on the nightly news, and whom Bunny himself finds scary and unbelievable. It also helps that Bunny is a father, a terrible wayward father, but a father nonetheless, and that his son, a smart, academically inclined kid, hero-worships him.
“The Death of Bunny Munro” has easily become my favorite book of the year. Mixing dark humor with the usual Nick Cave flair, the readers have been introduce to a father figure that’s a little more realistic than whatever John Grogan wants to sling your way. I recommend it.
RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW!