The Death of Bunny Munro

The Death of Bunny Munro

4.3 20
by Nick Cave
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Set adrift by his wife's suicide and struggling to keep a grip on reality, Bunny Munro does the only thing he can think of: with his young son in tow, he hits the road. To his son, waiting patiently in the car while his father peddles beauty wares and quickies to lonely housewives in the south of England, Bunny is a hero, larger than life. But Bunny himself,

Overview

Set adrift by his wife's suicide and struggling to keep a grip on reality, Bunny Munro does the only thing he can think of: with his young son in tow, he hits the road. To his son, waiting patiently in the car while his father peddles beauty wares and quickies to lonely housewives in the south of England, Bunny is a hero, larger than life. But Bunny himself, haunted by what might be his wife's ghost, seems only dimly aware of his son's existence.

When his bizarre trip shades into a final reckoning, when he can no longer be sure what is real and what is not, Bunny finally begins to recognize the love he feels for his son. And he sees that the revenants of his world—decrepit fathers, vengeful ghosts, jealous husbands, and horned psycho-killers—are lurking in the shadows, waiting to exact their toll.

At turns dark and humane, The Death of Bunny Munro is a tender portrait of the relationship between a boy and his father, with all the wit and enigma that fans will recognize as Nick Cave's singular vision.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Put Cormac McCarthy, Franz Kafka, and Benny Hill together in a Brighton seaside guesthouse, and they might just come up with Bunny Munro. As it stands, though, this novel emerges emphatically as the work of one of the great cross-genre storytellers of our age; a compulsive read possessing all of Nick Cave's trademark horror and humanity, often thinly disguised in a galloping, playful romp.” —Irvine Welsh

The Death of Bunny Munro, is a sexually explicit, hyperactive soap opera of a book that proves, once again, that his talents are wide-ranging. Cave is a darkly gifted storyteller . . . Cave's prose surprises throughout with flashes of grotesque beauty.” —Don Waters, San Francisco Chronicle

“As in song, Cave the novelist is unafraid to launch headlong into roaring caricature, but while the sex and death quotient is significant, the book also reveals surprising new weapons in his armoury, particularly the tenderness and humanity with which he portrays Bunny Junior, a beacon of love and faith in a ruined world . . . Told with verve, studded with scalding humour.” —Graeme Thomson, The Observer

Publishers Weekly

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. (Sept.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal
After a joyous ride from woman to woman, Bunny Munro, a sex-obsessed beauty product salesman, meets his comeuppance when he is fatally injured in a traffic accident. Not until his dying moments does he feel remorse over taking sexual advantage of his female customers and neglecting his nine-year-old son. However, the penitence comes only after many chapters of sexual gratification and coarse language, and one wonders if he is indeed sincere or if the author is merely seeking absolution for his own self-indulgence and bawdiness. Australian rock star Cave, moonlighting as a novelist, has an ear for the rhythm of language, employing dialog that appropriately reflects individual walks of life. But as the story, with little variation, follows Bunny door to door as he flirts with women and occasionally enjoying a "quickie," it soon becomes repetitious and tedious. VERDICT Cave's previous novel, And the Ass Saw the Angel, has been hailed as "adventurous," but this work, laced with infantile wit, frankly goes nowhere. Reading like a graphic novel without illustrations, it may appeal to readers with a predilection for weird humor. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/09.]—Victor Or, Surrey P.L. & North Vancouver City Lib., B.C.
Kirkus Reviews
After a two-decade pause, the post-punk singer-songwriter finally follows up his well-received first novel (And The Ass Saw The Angel, 1990) with a lurid fantasia about a drug-addled salesman. This could easily be the literary companion to Cave's recent howling performances with garage band Grinderman. When we meet long-since-gone-to-seed Bunny Munro, he's shacked up with the latest prostitute, multitasking by phoning to comfort his mentally disturbed wife Libby. A sex-obsessed peddler of beauty products, Bunny numbs himself by limiting his input to the next selfish pleasure. Returning home, he finds Libby has slashed all his clothing and hung herself in a locked bathroom. Instead of comforting their nine-year-old son Bunny Junior, the once-charming lothario fills himself with poisons, packs his bonnet full of inventory and hits the road with his son for a series of misguided lessons about manhood. Bunny's melancholy worldview takes some getting used to, but he's fitfully sly and unabashedly narcissistic, which also makes him unpredictably funny. Told he should be extinct, Bunny declares, "I resent that. I take personal hygiene very seriously." As the story develops, he achieves a broken grace that belies his repellent character and faintly hints at redemption. Things get weirder when Bunny starts seeing Libby. "He realizes, in a shadowy way, for a brief moment, that the imaginings and visitations and apparitions that he encountered were the ghosts of his own grief and that he was being driven insane by them," Cave writes in characteristically lyrical and macabre prose. "He knows more than he knows anything that they very soon will kill him."Profane and profound by turns-not for everyone,but Cave still knows how to command an audience.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780865479401
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
08/31/2010
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
593,492
Product dimensions:
8.48(w) x 11.04(h) x 0.75(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Death of Bunny Munro
 
1

I am damned, thinks Bunny Munro in a sudden moment of self-awareness reserved for those who are soon to die. He feels that somewhere down the line he has made a grave mistake, but this realisation passes in a dreadful heartbeat, and is gone – leaving him in a room at the Grenville Hotel, in his underwear, with nothing but himself and his appetites. He closes his eyes and pictures a random vagina, then sits on the edge of the hotel bed and, in slow motion, leans back against the quilted headboard. He clamps the mobile phone under his chin and with his teeth breaks the seal on a miniature bottle of brandy. He empties the bottle down his throat, lobs it across the room, then shudders and gags and says into the phone, ‘Don’t worry, love, everything’s going to be all right.’

‘I’m scared, Bunny,’ says his wife, Libby.

‘What are you scared of? You got nothing to be scared of.’

‘Everything, I’m scared of everything,’ she says.

But Bunny realises that something has changed in his wife’s voice, the soft cellos have gone and a high, rasping violin has been added, played by an escaped ape or something. He registers it but has yet to understand exactly what this means.

‘Don’t talk like that. You know that gets you nowhere,’ says Bunny, and like an act of love he sucks deep on a Lambert & Butler. It is in that instant that it hits him – the baboon on the violin, the inconsolable downward spiral of her drift – and he says, ‘Fuck!’ and blows two furious tusks of smoke from his nostrils.

‘Are you off your Tegretol? Libby, tell me you’ve been taking your Tegretol!’

There is silence on the other end of the line, then a broken, faraway sob.

‘Your father called again. I don’t know what to say to him. I don’t know what he wants. He shouts at me. He raves,’ she says.

‘For Christ’s sake, Libby, you know what the doctor said. If you don’t take your Tegretol, you get depressed. As you well know, it’s dangerous for you to get depressed. How many fucking times do we have to go through this?’

The sob doubles on itself, then doubles again, till it becomes gentle, wretched crying and it reminds Bunny of their first night together – Libby lying in his arms, in the throes of some inexplicable crying jag, in a down-at-heel hotel room in Eastbourne. He remembers her looking up at him and saying, ‘I’m sorry, I get a little emotional sometimes,’ or something like that, and Bunny pushes the heel of his hand into his crotch and squeezes, releasing a pulse of pleasure into his lower spine.

‘Just take the fucking Tegretol,’ he says, softening.

‘I’m scared, Bun. There’s this guy running around attacking women.’

‘What guy?’

‘He paints his face red and wears plastic devil’s horns.’

‘What?’

‘Up north. It’s on the telly.’

Bunny picks up the remote off the bedside table and with a series of parries and ripostes turns on the television set that sits on top of the mini-bar. With the mute button on, he moves through the channels till he finds some black-and-white CCTV footage taken at a shopping mall in Newcastle. A man, bare-chested and wearing tracksuit bottoms, weaves through a crowd of terrified shoppers. His mouth is open in a soundless scream. He appears to be wearing devil’s horns and waves what looks like a big black stick.

Bunny curses under his breath and in that moment all energy, sexual or otherwise, deserts him. He thrusts the remote at the TV and in a fizz of static it goes out and Bunny lets his head loll back. He focuses on a water stain on the ceiling shaped like a small bell or a woman’s breast.

Somewhere in the outer reaches of his consciousness he becomes aware of a manic twittering sound, a tinnitus of enraged protest, electronic sounding and horrible, but Bunny does not recognise this, rather he hears his wife say, ‘Bunny? Are you there?’

‘Libby. Where are you?’

‘In bed.’

Bunny looks at his watch, trombones his hand, but cannot focus.

‘For Christ’s sake. Where is Bunny Junior?’

‘In his room, I guess.’

‘Look, Libby, if my dad calls again . . .’

‘He carries a trident,’ says his wife.

‘What?’

‘A garden fork.’

‘What? Who?’

‘The guy, up north.’

Bunny realises then that the screaming, cheeping sound is coming from outside. He hears it now above the bombination of the air conditioner and it is sufficiently apocalyptic to almost arouse his curiosity. But not quite.

The watermark on the ceiling is growing, changing shape – a bigger breast, a buttock, a sexy female knee – and a droplet forms, elongates and trembles, detaches itself from the ceiling, freefalls and explodes on Bunny’s chest. Bunny pats at it as if he were in a dream and says, ‘Libby, baby, where do we live?’

‘Brighton.’

‘And where is Brighton?’ he says, running a finger along the row of miniature bottles of liquor arranged on the bedside table and choosing a Smirnoff.

‘Down south.’

‘Which is about as far away from “up north” as you can get without falling into the bloody sea. Now, sweetie, turn off the TV, take your Tegretol, take a sleeping tablet – shit, take two sleeping tablets – and I’ll be back tomorrow. Early.’

‘The pier is burning down,’ says Libby.

‘What?’

‘The West Pier, it’s burning down. I can smell the smoke from here.’

‘The West Pier?’

Bunny empties the tiny bottle of vodka down his throat, lights another cigarette and rises from the bed. The room heaves as Bunny is hit by the realisation that he is very drunk. With arms held out to the side and on tiptoe, Bunny moonwalks across the room to the window. He lurches, stumbles and Tarzans the faded chintz curtains until he finds his balance and steadies himself. He draws them open extravagantly and vulcanised daylight and the screaming of birds deranges the room. Bunny’s pupils contract painfully as he grimaces through the window, into the light. He sees a dark cloud of starlings, twittering madly over the flaming, smoking hulk of the West Pier which stands, helpless, in the sea across from the hotel. He wonders why he hadn’t seen this before and then wonders how long he has been in this room, then remembers his wife and hears her say, ‘Bunny, are you there?’

‘Yeah,’ says Bunny, transfixed by the sight of the burning pier and the thousand screaming birds.

‘The starlings have gone mad. It’s such a horrible thing. Their little babies burning in their nests. I can’t bear it, Bun,’ says Libby, the high violin rising.

Bunny moves back to the bed and can hear his wife crying on the end of the phone. Ten years, he thinks, ten years and those tears still get him – those turquoise eyes, that joyful pussy, ah man, and that unfathomable sob stuff – and he lies back against the headboard and bats, ape-like, at his genitals and says, ‘I’ll be back tomorrow, babe, early.’

‘Do you love me, Bun?’ says Libby.

‘You know I do.’

‘Do you swear on your life?’

‘Upon Christ and all his saints. Right down to your little shoes, baby.’

‘Can’t you get home tonight?’

‘I would if I could,’ says Bunny, groping around on the bed for his cigarettes, ‘but I’m miles away.’

‘Oh, Bunny . . . you fucking liar . . .’

The line goes dead and Bunny says, ‘Libby? Lib?’

He looks inexplicably at the phone as if he has just discovered he is holding it, then clamshells it shut as another droplet of water explodes on his chest. Bunny forms a little ‘O’ with his mouth and he shoves a cigarette in it. He torches it with his Zippo and pulls deeply, then emits a considered stream of grey smoke.

‘You got your hands full there, darling.’

With great effort Bunny turns his head and looks at the prostitute standing in the bathroom doorway. Her fluorescent pink knickers pulse against her chocolate-coloured skin. She scratches at her cornrows and a slice of orange flesh peeps behind her drug-slack lower lip. Bunny thinks that her nipples look like the triggers on those mines they floated in the sea to blow up ships in the war or something, and almost tells her this, but forgets and draws on his cigarette again and says, ‘That was my wife. She suffers from depression.’

‘She’s not alone there, sweetheart,’ she says as she jitters across the faded Axminster carpet, the shocking tip of her tongue protruding pinkly from between her lips. She drops to her knees and takes Bunny’s cock in her mouth.

‘No, it’s a medical condition. She’s on medication.’

‘Her and me both, darling,’ says the girl, across Bunny’s stomach.

Bunny seems to give this reply due consideration as he manoeuvres his hips. A limp black hand rests on his belly, and looking down Bunny sees that each fingernail has the detailed representation of a tropical sunset painted on it.

‘Sometimes it gets really bad,’ he says.

‘That’s why they call it the blues, baby,’ she says, but Bunny barely hears this as her voice comes out in a low, incomprehensible croak. The hand twitches and then jumps on his stomach.

‘Hey? What?’ he says, sucking air through his teeth, and he gasps suddenly and there it was, blowing up from his heart, that end-of-things thought again – ‘I am damned’ – and he folds an arm across his eyes and arches slightly.

‘Are you OK, darling?’ says the prostitute.

‘I think a bath is overflowing upstairs,’ says Bunny.

‘Hush now, baby.’

The girl lifts her head and looks fleetingly at Bunny, and he tries to find the centre of her black eyes, the tell-tale pinprick of her pupils, but his gaze loses its intent and blurs. He places a hand on her head, feels the damp sheen on the back of her neck.

‘Hush now, baby,’ she says again.

‘Call me Bunny,’ he says and sees another droplet of water tremble on the ceiling.

‘I’ll call you any damn thing you want, sweetie.’

Bunny closes his eyes and presses on the coarse ropes of her hair. He feels the soft explosion of water on his chest, like a sob.

‘No, call me Bunny,’ he whispers.

Copyright © 2009 by Nick Cave

All rights reserved

Originally published in 2009 by the Text Publishing Company, Australia

Published in the United States by Faber and Faber, Inc.

First American edition, 2009

Meet the Author

Nick Cave has been performing music for more than thirty years as the lead singer of the Birthday Party, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, and Grinderman. He has collaborated with Kylie Minogue, PJ Harvey, and many others. His first novel, And the Ass Saw the Angel, was published in 1989. Born in Australia, Cave now lives near Brighton, England.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

The Death of Bunny Munro 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Patrice65 More than 1 year ago
It is a pretty vulgar book. The main character is a extremely disturbed sex addicted moron, who has a 9 year old son who loves him unconditionally and their journey together after the untimely death of their mother/wife. I thought it was sadly funny, well worded and I couldn't put it down. Not a book for the meek.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yeah, I think so. That's cool
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hi
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The abnegation... help me get there!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Moira Rose More than 1 year ago
As trippy as 'And the Ass Saw the Angel'. A beautiful and frightening expression of a man's social and psychological degredation. Love Nick Cave, loved this novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago