My world and the debauched world of Bunny Munro have recently intersected… and what a trip it has been!
Bunny Munro is a salesman who knows his days are numbered. His lust is of comic book proportions and there is almost always a rampant tee-peeing in his leopard skin briefs… particularly when Kylie Minogue’s ‘Spinning Around’ comes on the radio (Bunny proclaiming, I can’t believe that song is legal) or when a vision of Avril Lavigne overtakes him (in Bunny’s words, she has the Valhalla of vaginas). In fact, Bunny spends more time obsessing over genitals (his own and those of just about any woman that walks down the street), than just about any other character that has graced the pages of a novel. On the surface he appears an oversexed, on-the-make, chain-smoking, hard-drinking, coke-snorting monster, living out one deliriously long wet dream, but it is the depth Cave brings to Bunny that really makes him endure.
Much of this depth comes from Bunny Jr., who quite simply, loves his dad. Bunny Jr. is a beacon of hope in a world that has forsaken his father and robbed him of his mother. Together, they hit the road to sell beauty products, Bunny Jr. taking charge of ‘the list’ and the A-Z (the street directory) as his father’s life unravels in a series of sexual mishaps, beatings and a serious deranging of the senses. Like The Road (which Cave recently wrote the score for, along with Bad Seed & Grinderman collaborator, Warren Ellis), The Death of Bunny Munro is essentially an exploration of the father/son relationship. And while there is a moment at Libby Munro’s funeral where Bunny tries to offload his son, the two seem, for better or worse (the vulnerability you experience as Bunny Jr. is continually left in the yellow Fiat Punto, with nothing but his encyclopedia and Darth Vader figurine is at times truly nerve-wracking), inseparable.
The supporting cast of characters that Cave introduces are worth the entry alone… there’s Geoffrey, Bunny’s disturbingly overweight boss, who has a knack for the jokes – What’s green and smells like bacon? Kermit’s finger; Poodle, another of Eternity Enterprises sexual predators; the Horned Killer, who is working his way toward Brighton, leaving a trail of beautiful but very dead women in his wake; and Bunny Sr. whose sexual appetite and unbridled rage makes Bunny look like a samaritan.
The Death of Bunny Munro has all of Cave’s trademark gallows humour and sexual perversion, but it is his eye for detail that really shines… from the individual sunsets painted on a prostitute’s fingernails to the water stain on the hotel ceiling that looks like a small bell or a woman’s breast, Cave gives us all of the finer detail, whether we want it or not. ‘We must love one another or die,’ quotes Bunny from W.H. Auden, but there is no love on this earth that can save this tortured salesman.
And Canongate need to be applauded for releasing this as an audio book read by Cave himself. This for me was the ultimate way to experience the psychotic poetry of Bunny Munro. Cave’s voice captures all the madness of Bunny and the tenderness of Bunny Jr. and the soundtrack (composed by Cave & Ellis) kicks in at all the right times to transition you from scene to scene.
If you haven’t already, discover the world of Bunny Munro… to get a taste, head over and listen to Cave reading select chapters on the book’s website (there is also some very cool video footage on the site).