The Death of Bunny Munro CD

Nick Cave

The Death of Bunny Munro CD
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The Death of Bunny Munro CD

Nick Cave

Nick Cave’s The Death of Bunny Munro has now been released as an audio book with bonus DVD. The package contains seven CDs of Nick Cave reading the novel. This is underscored by an original soundtrack composed by Nick and long-time collaborator Warren Ellis. The DVD is an intimate visual experience featuring Nick reading selected chapters. Bunny Munro knows he is doomed. Even before his wife died, he knew that he was losing his charms and his self-control. Going on the road, with his ten year old son, seems like a good way for the travelling salesman to lose the nagging feeling that his time is coming to an end. But his usual escape routes of casual sex and drug binges can’t rid him of his wife’s disapproving gaze from beyond the grave. Or his son’s pathetic stare. As the bizarre and increasingly frenzied road trip gets out of control, Bunny finds that the demons he has been trying to keep at bay all his life have emerged from the shadows to seek their revenge. The Death of Bunny Munro is a dark and compelling portrait of characters who dwell on the fringes of society and stumble through life on a diet of drugs, chaos and disappointment, but who’ll never give up fighting. A modern morality tale, this book lays bare the imprint that parents leave on their children and questions the nature of sin and redemption.

Review

Given that his first novel And the Ass Saw the Angel was published 20 years ago, you could be forgiven for thinking that Nick Cave has perhaps been taking it easy. Of course, this would mean ignoring the 12 or so albums he has created in that time. In fact, one thing you can’t question about Cave is his work ethic. Just the last couple of years have seen him produce an album with his new band Grinderman, a film script in The Proposition, the film’s soundtrack, and soundtracks to the films The Assassination of Jesse James and the forthcoming The Road.

Strangely though, Cave’s comparatively meagre literary output serves quite well to bookend his artistic progression over this time. And the Ass Saw the Angel, which was full of God-fearing Americana and desolate desperation, neatly reflects his early recorded work such as The Firstborn is Dead and Your Funeral…My Trial. Since then, however, Cave has undergone a dramatic artistic re-invention. With the records Grinderman and Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!, his music has taken a debauched, lecherous and wild turn, and from these new roots springs The Death of Bunny Munro.

Bunny Munro is a cosmetics salesman and unabashed lothario. When his tale begins, we catch him happily indulging his insatiable libido with a casual disregard for his wife and young son. However, Bunny, for reasons he can’t fathom, has recently become aware of his own mortality, and as this cloud starts to grow above him, his life is thrown into turmoil by his wife’s sudden passing. Shell-shocked and unable to cope with her ghost in the house, he takes to the road with his son, Bunny Junior, in tow.

What follows is a slowly accelerating descent into depravity as Bunny attempts to escape his wife’s memory and his own sense of impending doom. Unfortunately, despite some initial success, his therapeutic vices of women and alcohol soon turn on him, and his pathological pursuit of flesh and unyielding anxieties invariably lead him towards his ultimate downfall.

By its conclusion, Cave’s book is breathless; his words hit the page in rapid fire as his protagonist sprints to his own demise. However, the book is also filled with an outrageous irreverence that manifests itself in ways that range from comical to grotesque to unashamedly offensive. This sly humour has always been a hallmark of Cave’s writing and, like his disgustingly charming anti-hero, he is able to be brash, disturbing and even horribly vulgar, but get away with it with a quick wink or twitch of the fabled moustache. Despite all the carnage, there is a strange sense of hope, as parallel to Bunny’s disintegration runs the coming-of-age of Bunny Junior.

Given Cave’s iconic status, The Death of Bunny Munro will invariably be a hit, but like all his recent and varied endeavours, this success will primarily be due to Cave’s talents as a writer and the quality of his work. With its themes of depravity and redemption, The Death of Bunny Munro bears a passing resemblance to the 2003 Booker Prize winner Vernon God Little and it wouldn’t be at all surprising if it had similar success.

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