The Death of Bunny Munro by Nick Cave

Book Review
Title: The Death of Bunny Munro
Author: Nick Cave
Publisher: HarperCollins
Released: 2009
Pages: 288
ISBN-10: 0865479100
ISBN-13: 978-0865479104
Stars: 3.5

Australian rock star Nick Cave (of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds) is an interesting, eclectic artist who writes fantastic lyrics so it is for this reason that I let HarperCollins know that I wanted to read and review his book, The Death of Bunny Munro. I have not read his previous book so had nothing to compare, but this was every bit as remarkable and unusual a black comedy as I expected it would be and once I started it, I couldn’t put it down.

Set in modern day England, this soft-porn tale of the seriously disturbed anti-hero, Bunny Munro, is a tragic one that unfolds with the fascinating curiosity of a train wreck. If this book was ever made into a movie it should be directed by David Lynch and star Vincent Gallo as Bunny.

Bunny Munro is a vagina-obsessed, social misfit who suffers from a major personality disorder but just happens to make his living as a door-to-door salesman of beauty products for the shadowy, enigmatic Eternity Enterprises. Bunny also happens to be a perverted man-whore who never ceases to look for a way to seduce the women he sells his beauty lotions to, much to the utter despair of his poor, long-suffering wife Libby, who is the mother of his 9-year-old prodigious son, Bunny Jr.

When Libby commits suicide, an inept Bunny finds himself having to figure out a way to look after his son. After a haunting by his dead wife in their apartment, he decides that he can’t live there anymore and packs up a few belongings, instructing Jr. to do the same (all he takes is a few clothes and his beloved encyclopedia that his mum gave him), and they head out on the road where Bunny embarks on a father/son bonding experience unlike any you have witnessed. He teaches him the tricks of his trade, like Bunny’s father did before him, all the while ignoring the fact that he is slowing sliding into Hell – where he rightfully belongs – face first.

Bunny Munro is not a character that you will have much empathy for and you know from the title of the book as well as its first sentence, how it will end. He’s a narcissistic, alcoholic, depraved mess of a human being who somehow manages to use his tiny bit of charm and twisted sense of humor to prey on lonely women with self-esteem issues. This explicit story, while challenging at times because you despise him so much, is also one in which you find yourself rooting for Munro’s precocious, innocent son, and wondering what kind of desperate women he’ll meet next, so you just have to read it until the end.

In one scene, Bunny sneaks out of the church where his wife is being eulogized, to enter a public toilet so he can masturbate (something which he does often throughout the book, constantly referring to the exquisite private parts of Kylie Minogue and Avril Lavigne who are the objects of his fantasies) and try to get his head around what is happening in his life.

“With eyes downcast, he stands before the reflective square of stainless steel screwed to the wall above the sink. After a while Bunny finds the courage to raise his head and look at himself. He half expects some drooling, slack-jawed ogre to greet him there in the smeared mirror and is pleasantly surprised to see that he recognizes the face that stares back at him – warm, loveable, and dimpled. He pats at his pomaded forelock and smiles at himself. He leans in closer. Yeah, there it is – that irresistible and unnameable allure – a little bashed and battered, to be sure, but who wouldn’t be?

Then, on closer inspection, he sees something else there, looking back at him. He leans in nearer still. Something grievous has resided in his face that he is amazed to see adds to his general magnetism. There is an intensity to his eyes that was not there before – a tragic light – that he feels has untold potential and he shoots the mirror a sad, emotive smile and is aghast at his new-found pulling power.”

Written in third person narrative, The Death of Bunny Munro is shockingly different and definitely not the kind of novel that would normally scream bestseller. It’s peculiar and peppered with grim details of each character’s surroundings, with an ending that is anti-climactic and somewhat predictable, but I enjoyed the ride nevertheless. Nick Cave’s writing is dramatic and unforgettable and the moral scope that he explores within the characters of this book makes for a courageous author who should be celebrated with Dionysian fervor.

If you don’t want to read about a sex-addicted, self-obsessed misogynist, skip this book. If you can’t help but be curious, and you like dark, surreal stories like The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus for instance, you will probably enjoy this at least as much as I did.

Getting To Know Author Fiona Robyn

British author Fiona Robyn was first introduced to me on Book Blogs where she was posting about her new novel, Thaw. She contacted me shortly thereafter about participating in her Blogsplash (something I’d never heard of before) for Thaw and I thought it was a great idea, not to mention a bit of ingenious marketing, and I wanted to participate when she launched the debut of Thaw online in blog format on March 1st, 2010.

After Fiona made her introduction, I joined her blogs – all four of them! Fortunately two of them consist of very short posts, which make for quick, but enjoyable reading. Her daily blog is at a small stone and her blog about being a writer is at Planting Words. Her main site is at www.fionarobyn.com. She can be contacted at fiona@fionarobyn.com.

Fiona, welcome to my blog! I’m very pleased to have the opportunity to interview you and I thank you for joining me here.

Christine: Please tell us about your books. I believe you have written three novels, a book of poetry, and a non-fiction book.

Fiona: The non-fiction book is called ‘A Year of Questions: How to slow down and fall in love with life’ so I don’t have to tell you any more about that one! My poetry collection is called ‘Living Things’, and my novels are ‘The Letters’ (Violet receives a series of mysterious letters dated 1960 from a mother and baby home), ‘The Blue Handbag’ (gardener Leonard becomes a reluctant detective) and ‘Thaw’ (Ruth decides whether or not to carry on living).

Christine: What were your major inspirations for each novel?

Fiona: My novels always begin with my main characters, who ‘turn up in my head.’ As I get to know them, they tell me their stories.

Christine: What compels you to write?

Fiona: I write for many reasons. It helps me to pay attention, and it is also very satisfying to put the right words into the right order. I write my novels in order to tell my characters’ stories.

Christine: What is the thing you love most about the writing process?

Fiona: It’s nice when I’m finished. ; ) But the best bit is when readers enjoy my books, and tell me so.

Christine: Have you self-published all of your books?

Fiona: No – a lovely publisher called Snowbooks published my three novels.

Christine: Tell me about Snowbooks.

Fiona: Snowbooks are a small publisher in the UK with a very good reputation in the industry.

Christine: What do you enjoy and dislike about self-marketing?

Fiona: I love meeting new people from all over the world, and making new friends, and selling books! I choose the things I want to do, and so there’s nothing I don’t like…

Christine: Do you have any self-marketing tips for other DIY authors or aspiring writers?

Fiona: I find it helpful to do only the things I enjoy doing anyway (e.g. blogging about the things that interest me) and then selling more books becomes a bonus rather than a necessity. I’d also advise people to be as authentic as they can.

Christine: Why did you decide to publish Thaw online?

Fiona: It was an experiment – I hope that I’ll find new readers, and that maybe some of them will want to find out what happens and buy the book before the three months are up. We’ll see.

Christine: Where did you discover the concept of a blogsplash and can you explain it?

Fiona: I wanted to let as many people as possible know about the project at the beginning, so fellow bloggers helped me out by publishing the first entry on the same day as me.

Christine: How successful has the blogsplash been so far for Thaw?

Fiona: Good – there are currently 170 members of the Facebook group, and the blog has had 2500 hits since Monday.

Christine: I really enjoy you’re a small stone blog because I am a poet and I love what you are able to create with so few words. How long have you been writing poetry?

Fiona: Since I was 20.

Christine: How would you describe your particular style as a poet?

Fiona: I’m not sure! Accurate observation is important to me.

Christine: I noticed that one of your top 10 favourite novels is ‘And the Ass saw the Angel’ by Nick Cave. I love to read fiction written by famous songwriters. Can you tell me about the book and why it’s one of your top 10?

Fiona: I wrote that list a long time ago, but it is a very good book – full of darkness and wonderful luscious language. I tend to like American writers more than British ones, so this is an exception.

Christine: [Nick Cave is Australian.] What do you love to do besides writing?

Fiona: I’m loving salsa at the moment! I’ve become addicted, and go to classes twice a week.

Christine: That sounds like fun! What are your goals for your writing for this year and for the future?

Fiona: I’m having a break as I’ve just finished my fourth novel – I’ll start the next in September. Maybe some poems will arrive in the gap…

Christine: I read on your website that you are “currently growing potatoes, learning Russian and investigating Zen thought.” Do you care to elaborate on how those endeavors are evolving? What have you learned?

Fiona: My potatoes are coming along nicely! I’m still struggling with Russian – I love the sound of the language, and aim to be able to read Russian classics in the original. One day… And I’m still reading a lot about Buddhism – it’s been very helpful to me in various ways.

Thank you again Fiona for spending time with me and my blog readers. It was a pleasure to talk to you and to get to know you better and I’m really looking forward to reading all of your books!

www.ahandfulofstones.com
100readers.blogspot.com
www.fionarobyn.com/thawblogsplash.htm

“I Put A Spell On You”: A Benefit Record To Aid Haiti Reconstruction

I remember Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ 1956 hit song I Put A Spell On You as being covered by one of my favourite singers when I was a teenager, the inimitable Rocky Horror Picture Show legend that is Tim Curry on his 1981 album Simplicity. This classic rockin’ blues song has also been interpreted by such splendid talents as Nina Simone, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Tom Waits and Bette Midler.

You remember how it goes…

“I put a spell on you, because you’re mine
You better stop the things that you’re doin’
I said, “Watch out, I ain’t lyin'”, yeah
I ain’t gonna take none of your, foolin’ around
I ain’t gonna take none of your, puttin’ me down
I put a spell on you because you’re mine, all right

I put a spell on you, because you’re mine
You better stop, the things that you’re doin’
I said, “Watch out, I ain’t lyin'”, yeah
I ain’t gonna take none of your, foolin’ around
I ain’t gonna take none of your, puttin’ me down
I put a spell on you because you’re mine, all right and I took it down”
~ Screamin’ Jay Hawkins

However, not until now (early 2010) has there been recorded what might be the most unforgettable version of all time of the hypnotic “I Put A Spell On You.”

Pogues singer Shane MacGowan and Victoria Clarke recently collaborated with some famous friends to record the song so that its’ proceeds could support Dublin-based Concern Worldwide’s longstanding work in Haiti in the aftermath of the January 12th devasting 7.0M earthquake.

From the caption at YouTube:

“The stellar cast featured vocals from Shane MacGowan, Nick Cave and Primal Scream singer Bobby Gillespie, the Sex Pistols’ Glen Matlock, The Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde and Paloma Faith and finally Eliza Doolittle. On guitars were James Walbourne, The Clash’s Mick Jones and Johnny Depp, who recorded his parts in LA.

Long-time Pogues collaborator Cait O’Riordan played bass, and Carwyn Ellis played Hammond organ and piano. Drums were courtesy of Rob Walbourne and the fire hydrant was played by Mick Jones.”

There are some wonderful performances here, but the standout vocal prizes have got to be awarded to the distinctive and intriguing Paloma Faith and the amazing rock goddess that is Chrissie Hynde.

With no further adieu, see what I mean for yourself: