Book Review – The Death of Bunny Munro by Nick Cave

books, reviews

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I’m still not doing very well when it comes to reading this month but this week I’ve managed to finish 2 whole books. Mostly because they were audiobooks and I was able to listen to them at work. I guess I was feeling musical as both were related to the music industry. The first was The Beastie Boys book and the second was this novel by Nick Cave. I’m a fan of Nick Cave so I was expecting something a bit weird and very lyrical.

Anyone who is familiar with Nick Cave’s music and poetry will have some idea of what to expect from this novel. The writing is lyrical and there is plenty of dark humour. Oh and daydreams about celebrity vaginas. A lot of daydreams about celebrity vaginas actually. Mostly those belonging to Avril Lavigne and Kylie Minogue. The Death of Bunny Munro is about a door-to-door salesman and sex addict. Set in the days following his wife’s suicide, we see Bunny come to terms with the news and the fact that he is solely responsible for their son, Bunny Jr. A shy boy who ends up spending his days sitting in the car as his father works his way through Brighton’s housewives.

The Death of Bunny Munro was nominated for the Bad Sex Award and it’s easy to see why. The book is full of awful sexual references. Awful in the sense that it’s not sexy in the slightest. After all, that’s not the point of the book. It’s a premise that is meant to make the reader uncomfortable and the relentless description of women as sex objects is a great way to do it. It’s so easy to dislike Bunny and his misogynistic ways. He is the ultimate anti-hero and a figure that Cage has created in a widely exaggerated and absurd style. Though I guess there is some truth hiding under all of that hyperbole. Bunny is extreme, which s something that we have seen from Cave in many of his songs.

Strictly speaking, it’s not possible to enjoy this book because I don’t think it’s meant to be enjoyed. It’s taking you so far to the edge to make a point. In this case a point about men and their treatment of women. To present you with a figure who is so narcissistic and self-involved that even his wife’s death doesn’t really faze him. Cave has set his sites on that form of toxic masculinity and clearly had a lot of fun in writing about Bunny’s exploits. Maybe a bit too much fun though.

It’s not as if I didn’t appreciate Cave’s writing. It’s absolutely beautiful and disgusting. I don’t even mind the way the book describes women. It’s just that I don’t think it’s as well-executed as it could be. The book takes a while to get going and ends up being quite repetitive. By the time I got to the all-important ending, I was kind of disengaged with the whole thing and it lost its impact. I get that this book was trying to be clever and literary. It’s a take on the tragic tale focusing on a certain type of maleness. Yet, it just didn’t work for me as I had wanted.

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