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The Spiralling Road to an Imminent Finale: The Death of Bunny Munroe

Nick Cave’s The Death of Bunny Munro begins with a tragic event that sends the character into an ever-descending spiral of chaos and crazy fuelled by relentless sex and a fountain of cocaine. This is no Fear and Loathing riot of colour – it’s a quieter journey with wry humour and genuine warmth. Bunny is a complete and utter fool, but somehow he is a loveable fool just struggling to come to terms with life and adulthood. The novel tells the story of the last few weeks of his ridiculous life. Never fear, I’m not giving anything away, but it is called The DEATH of Bunny Munro, after all.

The book opens with the following prophecy:

“‘I am damned’”; thinks Bunny Munro in a sudden moment of self-awareness reserved for those who are soon to die.”

Death is ever-present and innocence is reserved for the supposed adults. It is Bunny’s son, conveniently also named Bunny, who wears the mantle of reason, wisdom and responsibility. It’s Bunny Junior who is able to see the way forward while Bunny can only struggle on. It’s the sad and beautiful play-out of the relationship between Bunny and his son that is a central theme, and it’s that interaction that makes this book so enjoyable.

That is, if you can get past the multitudinous vagina. And boy, is there a lot of it. I’d suggest this probably isn’t a novel to read on the bus with curious over-the-shoulder book-grazers stealing a glance or two. Unless of course you’re wistfully brazen and/or easily amused – in that case, knock yourself out. In many ways, it seems to be a love song to Kylie Minogue’s bottom and Avril Lavigne’s, well... is there a limit to the number of times it’s acceptable to say vagina in a single paragraph?

“… the car radio has turned itself on and Kylie Minogue’s ‘Spinning Around’ is playing and he hears that crazy throbbing synthesiser and Kylie singing all achy… and he begins to tremble all over, shake and tremble, shake and tremble and jitter all over and his heart begins to palpitate like a jackhammer and his teeth start chattering like some clockwork skull…”

The Death of Bunny Munro is Cave’s second novel, following And the Ass Saw the Angel. It’s a tale about fatherhood, maturity and self-awareness. It’s a story about men. Perhaps not the everyman – he’s a little too much of a social Neanderthal for that – but certainly, there are elephantine elements of Bunny that speak to a part of the everyman. In fact, Bunny seems to bear a striking physical resemblance to Cave himself. One can only wonder if perhaps the similarity doesn’t end there.

“Bunny moves towards the mirror and it’s merciless light and despite the hot, toxic throb of his hangover – the dry, foul mouth, the boiled skin, blood-brown eyes and his demolished quiff – he is not displeased with what greets him.”

words: Kristen Hodges


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