I had never read a book that has been recommended by Rolling Stone Magazine. There is probably something in that fact, but I think it would detract from my review to explore that notion further! Thanks to textpublishing for breaking my mold!
So, meet Nick Cave, rock star, clearly much revered by Rolling Stone Magazine, intimidating looking dude to say the least and now an author. Meet Bunny Munro, the protagonist in his latest novel, an anti-hero, a sorrowful depiction of how some people live, a terrifying commentary on the state of life when immersed in the zone of sexdrugsrocknroll. Says Rolling Stone Online:
The Death of Bunny Munro is awash in sex, violence and sleaze, a bleakly hilarious trip through the sordid life of a traveling salesman. Like most people you’d meet in a Nick Cave song, Bunny is a disturbing character. He cheats on his wife until she commits suicide, then he takes his nine-year-old son on the road, selling beauty products and trying to hustle the customers. He has depraved fantasies about Minogue as well as Avril Lavinge. “Bunny’s obsessed with sex,” Cave says.”Yet he’s not actually that good at it.”
From the outset Bunny is doomed, his name alone is cause for ridicule! His son, Bunny Junior, is more intelligent and emotionally stable than he is and infinitely more sober. He is clearly physically wasted and tormented by what readers later discover is a challenging relationship with his father. This book is crass, filled with expletives, shocking to the core and there is little to redeem this Bunny for readers.
Ironically, the purity of this text comes from Bunny Junior who so clearly adores his father, worships him on some level, and relies on him as a sort of anchor in a world gone mad. Bunny Junior spends most of the book memorizing his encyclopedia while waiting in the car for his father to return from his various escapades which clearly involve more than just selling beauty products!
This was not an easy book to read. For me, the first glimpse of sunlight in an otherwise superbly disturbing text came on page 75:
“it occurs to him that with each tick of the clock the memory of his mother ares, and she slips away. He feels, with a rush of iced wind across his heart, at even by just lying there he is losing her, little by little. He closes his eyes and attempts with reasonable success to ransack his memory and conjure up images of her. He hopes by doing this that he will prevent her from melting away completely. He wants, deep down, to remember her back into existence.”
Eventually both Bunnies do manage to remember Mrs Munro back into existence: for Bunny senior she appears as a specter come to haunt him and remind him of his sins and for Bunny Junior, she is a warm and guiding hand who reassures him and comforts him. How simply we are influenced by our perspective on things!
Interestingly, there are several different covers for this book. One features just an image of a bunny rabbit:
Another shows a blonde haired boy holding a gun:
And a third shows the object of Bunny’s fantasies:
The range of covers indicates the fact that the emphasis of this text has been interpreted in so many different ways by a range of individuals. Some see the focus on the irony of Bunny’s name, others place the emphasis on Bunny Junior and others still are attracted by the object of Bunny’s desire.
Many reviews have classed this as a humorous novel, a cross between Cormac McCarthy and Benny Hill. I have to confess that I saw very little to laugh about. Whatever humour there was in this text was clearly disguised by crass, alcohol induced, cocaine driven haze. Invisible to me. I shuddered throughout the narrative, shuddered for Bunny and shuddered for Bunny Junior who did so well not to be sucked into the undertow of his father’s mania. And, I shuddered for all those people who actually live this life and for their children who struggle to escape.