Life affirming: The Death of Bunny Munro by Nick Cave

Like a sexually transmitted infection, Bunny Munro is one of those characters that you come across rarely but nevertheless somehow stays with you forever.

He is a talented salesman, an abominable father, a deplorable husband and a despicable human being. He drives around sleeping with housewives while his son waits patiently in the car. He wears zebra-print pants. He doesn’t light his cigarettes; he torches them with a Zippo. In Bunny Munro, Nick Cave has created a monster – every bit as loveable as he is awful.

Cave’s magnetic rock-star style is woven into every fibre of Bunny’s being. And it is spread across every page in this hilarious, original novel. The descriptions bring this book to life like electricity to Frankenstein’s monster: they are raucous, filthy and startlingly precise. For example, when he’s exasperated after too much sex, Bunny’s forelock hangs down over his face like a used condom. It is an expertly observed image, full of character and nuance. Cave spurts four or five of these on every page.

Buoyed by this fantastic imagery, the novel roars along as we follow Bunny Munro and his nine-year-old son travelling around Brighton and its suburbs to “shake the money tree”, that is, selling beauty products to vulnerable women who don’t need them. Bunny himself is having much more than a mid-life crisis, while Bunny Junior is enduring a pre-pubescent awakening. Their dialogue is superb, nailing each character perfectly. A riot of a book: it glistens with sweat, substances and old-fashioned rock and roll.

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