Thursday, 23 June 2011

The Death of Bunny Munro by Nick Cave

A truly disturbing novel about the eponymous alcoholic, sexually incontinent beauty product salesman, The Death of Bunny Munro is also gloriously funny, usually in the most inappropriate ways. At the heart of the novel is a demented road trip along England’s south coast, taken with his son, Bunny Junior. He sets out with the vague intention of showing the boy the tricks of the salesman’s trade, but the true goal of their quest is Bunny’s corrupted soul.

The novel starts with Bunny in a shabby hotel room in Brighton, pissed on the contents of the mini-bar and awaiting a prostitute. He is also on the phone to his wife, Libby:

“I am damned,” thinks Bunny Munro in a sudden moment of self-awareness reserved for those who are soon to die. He feels that somewhere down the line he has made a grave mistake, but this realisation passes in a dreadful heartbeat, and is gone – leaving him in a room at the Grenville Hotel, in his underwear, with nothing but himself and his appetites. He closes his eyes and pictures a random vagina, then sits on the edge of the hotel bed and, in slow motion, leans back against the quilted headboard. He clamps the mobile phone under his chin and with his teeth breaks the seal on a miniature bottle of brandy. He empties the bottle down his throat, lobs it across the room, then shudders and gags and says into the phone, “Don’t worry, love, everything’s going to be all right.”

It’s clear that he’s in a bad way, even more obvious when he wakes in the small hours, the booze wearing off;

Bunny stumbles in the dark, groping along the bathroom wall for the light switch. It is somewhere in those dead hours, the threes and fours, and the prostitute has been paid and packed off. Bunny is alone and awake and a mammoth hangover finds him on a terrifying mission for the sleeping pills. He thinks he may have left the in the bathroom and hopes the hooker didn’t find them. He locates the switch and fluorescent tubes buzz and hum awake. Bunny moves towards the mirror and its 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.

Complaining that his head feels like someone actually dropped the mini-bar on it, Bunny heads home the next day to discover that ten years of philandering and sexual misdemeanour on his part have finally driven poor Libby over the edge and she’s committed suicide.

Left alone with Bunny Junior, Bunny hits the bottle:

Then without warning Bunny leaps to his feet, and as if he has been girding himself for this moment all evening, moves to the sideboard (procured by Libby from a garage sale in Lewes) and opens its frosted glass front. Bunny reaches inside and returns to the sofa with a bottle of malt whisky and a short, heavy glass. He pours himself a drink, and then up-ends it down his throat. He gags and throws his body forward, shakes his head and repeats the action with the bottle and the glass again.

...and the satellite porn...

Unable to palm his son off on his in-laws he takes him on the road. Bunny’s death is inevitable, but will the boy be able to help his dad find redemption before it’s too late? By the looks of things so far, he’ll have his work cut out.


  1. I loved this book, found it far more appealing than his first book. This was a fantastic tale of a character who it would appear had no redeeming qualities and yet. On the subject of whisky have you read Iain Bank's Raw Spirit, part memoir, part travelogue, and a whole lot of good malt.

  2. I've not read his first, but agree with you on Bunny Munro. The man is too terrible for words, but I couldn't stop myself wanting to know what happened to him next. Thanks for the recommend, I shall check out Raw Spirit. There's a couple more reviews of Banks's writing on the blog, here, and here.