Nick Cave brings his talent for exploring the more depraved parts of humanity while maintaining eloquence and a real talent for telling a story to his second novel The Death of Bunny Munro.
The Death of Bunny Munro tells the story of Bunny Munro, a beauty products salesman who travels the South Coast of England hawking his most definitely useless beauty products (he refers to this as “selling hope”) to lonely housewives.
Upon the sudden suicide of his wife he decides to take his son, Bunny Junior, on one final ride through England’s South Coast. I say one last ride because along with an all-consuming obsession with women and sex (especially Avril Lavinge) Bunny is carrying an intense anxiety and dread that soon his life will end.
This is a story of a bad man who was never meant to be a father, his heartbreakingly innocent son and his last ditch effort to outrun a monster he can’t comprehend. He describes it as his own death but we might get the impression he’s running from his own sins, his own guilt and in a tragically doomed way he’s trying to protect his son from a monster he can’t see nor understand.
I’ve always been impressed by writers who can make us sympathise with terrible people, (Cormac McCarthy with his novel Child of God springs to mind) it takes a real understanding of the complexities of people to translate that into writing. This novel could have so easily been, in another less talented authors hands, a trite, crass and shallow mess. But in the hands of a master storyteller like Nick Cave we’re left with a haunting, heart breaking, complex and tragic tale of a man desperate for redemption – even if he won’t admit it to himself.