Thursday, 27 August 2015

Dark Book Review – The Death of Bunny Monroe


Dark Book Review – The Death of Bunny Monroe By Nick Cave

Review Written by Casey Douglass




I picked up The Death of Bunny Monroe when it came up on offer as an Amazon Kindle deal of the day. For around a quid, the synopsis made the book sound well worth a punt:

Bunny Munro sells beauty products and the dream of hope to the lonely housewives of the south coast. Set adrift by his wife's sudden death and struggling to keep a grip on reality, he does the only thing he can think of: with his young son in tow, he hits the road. While Bunny plies his trade and his sexual charisma door-to-door, nine-year-old Bunny Junior sits patiently in the car exploring the world through the pages of his encyclopedia. As their bizarre and increasingly frenzied road trip shears into a final reckoning, Bunny finds that the revenants of his world - decrepit fathers, vengeful ghosts, jealous husbands and horned psycho-killers - have emerged from the shadows and are seeking to exact their toll. A tender portrait of the relationship between a father and a son, The Death of Bunny Munro is a stylish, furious and hugely enjoyable read, bursting with the wit and mystery that fans will recognise as hallmarks of Cave's singular vision.

The first thing to get out in the open is that this book is certainly not one for the prudes out there. If various names and labels for sexual organs and parts of the human body offend you, you'd be best looking at a different book altogether. As the synopsis above says, Bunny Munro is a real hound, barely a page going by without him imagining getting into the panties of whichever women may be at hand. If none are, he invariably ends up slipping into fantasy about Kylie Minogue or Avril Lavigne, usually ending up spending an extended time in the nearest toilets as a consequence. He also suffers from an amazing lack of self-awareness, barely able to comprehend his own actions as part of the chain of consequence that leads to various aspects of his life falling apart, wondering why it all happens to him.

Despite these personality traits however, Bunny manages to come across as a likeable person, even with all the baggage and ignorance along for the ride. This is in no small part to the point of view changing at times to that of his young son Bunny Junior, who is in awe of his father and sees him as the coolest guy around, even when at his most neglectful. It is a credit to Nick Cave that such ugly characteristics in someone can be smoothed a little by viewing them through the eyes of someone who looks past all of that, or is simply just ignorant of the full extent of the depravity.

This feeling of decrepitude runs through the locations of the book also, the flats, hotels and fast food places all seemingly painted in the same dour grime that almost makes a tangible feeling of dirt appear under the fingernails of the person reading. I quite enjoyed this and must admit that it's the same feeling I get reading stuff by Charles Bukowski. Besides this feeling of filth, there are moments of humour, surrealness and emotion that all interplay really well in pushing the reader on to find out what befalls Bunny Senior and Junior by the end of the book. They encounter plenty of colourful characters along the way, some hinted at and never seen again, others almost comical in the portrayal of their nature, even tragically so. Underneath everything flows a river of sleaze and the urge to escape life's problems via addiction and ignorance though, and this persists throughout the book.

I read The Death of Bunny Monroe over the space of a couple of days and felt a little sad that it had ended. I enjoyed spending time with a character that you weren't sure whether you felt sorry for or despised, and his poor son who got dragged along for the ride. If you like grimy books with a touch of heart, I think you will enjoy The Death of Bunny Monroe. I give it 4.5/5.

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Bookcover Image © Copyright Canongate Books

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