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on 7 September 2009
i found this book completely tasteless with frequent in appropriate sexual references that seem to have no bearing to the 'plot'. i wouldnt reccomend this book to anyone. i was expecting something humerous and lighthearted however it was anything but.
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VINE VOICEon 3 December 2009
Bunny Munro is one bad dude. A cheating, unscrupulous salesman of beauty products to bored and lonely housewives, Bunny has his world turned topsy-turvy when his long-suffering wife suddenly dies. After a brief period of uncertainty over his future and that of his young son, Bunny decides to carry on doing the only thing he knows how and get back on the road to ply his wares. However, this decision does little for Bunny's sanity as a series of increasingly bizarre experiences befalls the loathsome lothario; his son, Bunny Junior, meanwhile, with the aid of his trusty encyclopedia, attempts to make sense of it all from the passenger seat of his dad's car...

The mind behind this tale is Nick Cave, best known as a recording artist and musician, whose career spans over 30 years, from his early outfit The Birthday Party, through the Bad Seeds, to his most recent incarnation, Grinderman. Let's not forget his numerous contributions to the world of film and cinema, either - as both a writer of soundtracks (The Road) and screenplays (The Proposition) as well as the odd cameo performance (The Assassination of Jesse James...). Or indeed the fact that this is actually his second novel, following And The Ass Saw The Angel, which was published back in 1989. It would be nigh on impossible to sum up such a diverse - and let's be honest, staggeringly impressive - body of work in just a few words, but if there's one term that characterizes Cave's artistic output (besides "unique") it's haunting. Because, whether it's in the lyrics he's written for any one of his aforementioned bands, or the stark soundscapes he creates for the equally barren movies he attaches his name to, Cave succeeds in consistently conjuring up images that linger in the mind long after the CD has stopped, or the film has ended. For better or worse, the same can be said about his prose, too.

Reading Nick Cave requires nerves of steel and a strong stomach. Mixing sex and sordidness, death and destruction, as well as humour and humanity, this is not an easy dish to digest - certainly not in one sitting. Essentially a tale of one man's descent into his own, self-imposed hell, The Death of Bunny Munro at times recalls the likes of Hubert Selby Jr's The Demon, but Cave has a style and a vision all of his own. There are some simply masterful strokes of the pen within this novel, but they are interspersed with stabs of almost comedic crudeness, making it at once a compelling and repulsive read. Bunny's twin obsession with real-life pop stars Avril Lavigne and Kylie Minogue, for example, is so dogged, so unrelenting, and so BASE, that it borders on harassment on the author's part - and yet it's one of the book's funniest motifs. (In fact, Cave makes apologies to both Lavigne and Minogue in his Acknowledgements). The unflinching narrative, meanwhile, which skillfully straddles the blurred line between reality and fantasy, keeps the reader on his toes right up until the final pages.

It's safe to say that this is a novel guaranteed to turn off as many readers as it engages. But once you've accepted - to quote one of Bunny's many conquests - that things are only going to get worse, really, the only option is to read on and bear witness to Bunny's inevitable demise. Thankfully, there are frequent moments of tenderness throughout the book - especially in the passages concerning Bunny Junior and his memories of his mother, and Cave's portrayal of the loyal and loving son gives the story a much needed measure of pathos.

Matt Pucci
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VINE VOICETOP 500 REVIEWERon 26 September 2009
Celebrity novelists are often easy to mock; one always has a suspicion that their work might not have been published had they not been famous. Usually that's a question of quality.

In the case of The Death Of Bunny Munro, the real issue is probably the subject matter. Bunny Munro is not a rabbit, he's a sex maniac - though presumably the reader is supposed to see a parallel between Munro and the legendary proclivity of the rabbit to breed. This would have been an easy subject to address in a hamfisted way, but instead Nick Cave presents us with a dull man who has an empty, lonely life that is scarred by his insatiable appetite for sex. He even recognizes this; he recognizes the damage it did to his marriage to Libby; the damage it does to his relationships with those around him; the damage it probably does to his career. For all the sex, there seems to be no gratification. It is very matter of fact. And, as it turns out, not even with particularly attractive women. In a telling moment, Bunny Munro is discussing with colleagues who is a breast man and who is a leg man. Bunny declares that he is a vagina man. He's no interest in the person or in the foreplay - just the mechanical act.

The novel particularly focuses on the days immediately following Libby's death. It shows a very disturbing grief reaction as Bunny's life falls apart - the one anchor point in his life is removed and Bunny fails to deal with the situation. He is landed with Bunny Jr to look after; a job that seems to be little more than an entry card into Brighton bedrooms; and a complete inability to look after himself. The result is pitiable for the sake of Bunny, but deeply concerning for the wellbeing of Junior. He's pulled from school, pulled from the family home and expected to keep watch as Bunny goes off on his salesman's rounds. Junior is portrayed as malleable, scared and bewildered but constantly seeking approval from a father who is behaving unpredictably. At times, Junior seems trusting, at other times he seems helplessly terrified.

The reader's perception of Bunny, Junior and their relationship then undergoes a paradigm shift as Bunny Sr is introduced. This turns what might have been ordinary fare into something far more interesting. It offers some insight into who Bunny actually is; why he is like that; and perhaps even where Junior is heading.

If there is a lack in the novel, it is a clear understanding of whether Bunny behaves in quite such a despicable way all the time or whether his bad qualities have been magnified by grief. The sex, we understand, is constant. The other misdemeanours and transgressions seem somewhat out of character and, perhaps, not sustainable over time.

The language is plain, straightforward and deadpan. Not a million miles from a Nick Cave lyric. But for all that, it is a rich, deceptively complex novel which defies being read in long sessions. The plot, for all it is, will not linger long. It's the characterization that is the real strength of The Death Of Bunny Munro.
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on 11 January 2010
I loved Nick's first book (as might be deduced from my username). On hearing that he was writing another book, I had a reaction almost as priapic as the lead character in this one.

On reading this book however, I felt totally let down.

Much like Nick's recent recording career (of which I was a major fan up to and including 'No More Shall We Part'), he has misfired badly with this novel.

It started off badly but appeared at one point as if it were going to become a 'road trip' adventure where the protagonist learned stuff and "grew up". No such luck - it just didn't happen & it stayed in the same shallow mucky waters that it started off in.

The various 5-star reviewers hare all seem to think it's hilariously funny, darkly comic, etc. - a tragic parable of modern society, and so on. Well that's just a big pile of dingo-doo, mate. It's just a satire (nothing wrong with that, I suppose) - a coarse and one-note one at that. But unfortunately it's very poor and just goes nowhere. It may be of interest to you if you enjoy the writing style but, believe me, Nick Cave can (and has) written far better than this drivel.

I was glad to finish it to be honest. And I was extremely glad to have sold it on via Amazon Marketplace! It would have been a total waste of bookshelf space otherwise.
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on 20 September 2009
The story of the end of Bunny Munro is a story about a dinosaur who has not realised that his species is extinct.

Bunny is really not a very nice person at all. It's not simply his antediluvian attitude towards women, but also his uncaring solipsism. Certainly, his son is caught in his orbit, but Bunny barely seems to notice him until towards the end. And, really, it's the ending that gives the book any meaning, and changes the bathos to pathos.

I don't know...it is well written, although some repeated phrases started to jar a little (the repetition of 'or something' after several metaphors). But I found it really hard to empathise with Bunny, to care in any way for this drunken lecher. After all, here is a man who, in the first few pages, drives his wife to suicide. Yet I plugged on with it and, when we meet Bunny's father, when we see Bunny Senior, Bunny and Bunny Junior, and we get some inkling of the motives of and background to Bunny's story, then maybe there is some sympathy. But the sympathy is for Bunny Junior; his father is clearly a lost cause.

In places, it reminded me of 'Bad Lieutenant'. Set in Brighton and the South Coast, the comparison still works, but the book is certainly no religious text, even given the hints of supernatural goings-on.

As a character study, it doesn't really have a great deal of depth. Bunny is simply thoroughly and pretty well two-dimensionally unpleasant. Bunny Junior is the only glimmer of light in this novel. In some ways, the Death of Bunny Munro may be the saving of Bunny Junior.

Still, it is a good read, but a bit disappointing overall. I'm not sure what I was hoping for, but if it hadn't been for Bunny's obsession with Kylie Minogue and Avril Lavinge, I'd have thought this was a 50s 'period piece'. As I said, Bunny is a dinosaur.
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on 6 January 2010
I have never read a book that was such a pain to get through, the writing style is truly gruelling because you would have though a 14 year old boy would have wrote it. I can understand what he was trying to do with the story line but it fails at every point, any time you think it seems to have turned into a good story it fails you miserably. I don't mind the vulgarity since that makes it a bit entertaining but the problem is that it isn't wrapped in good writing.
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on 2 May 2010
Reading previous reviews for this book is interesting in that, beyond the 'Nick Cave Fan-Club' and those who love to dress books (and authors) in such intellectual rhetoric, I cannot find anywhere in which this book well-written, humorous and (as a review reads on Canongate Publishing Website) a 'coherent and tightly structured page-turner...an often surprising as well as funny and spooky novel that is equal parts Flannery O'Connor grotesque and Stephen King horror story'. Obviously, when one reads something by a well-known artist it can be difficult to judge it in a completely unbiased fashion: but to me, this book does not warrant any of the above reports. It is certainly not grotesque, and it is certainly not a horror story.

I love Nick Cave's work, including And the Ass Saw the Angel, but I have found this work completely lacking in any depth of plot, characterisation, etc. (and before anyone brings up the (so-called) existential lack of plot or the Kafkaesque elements of this book, then read what Irvine Welsh has already written). Also, I think that personally, this is not a good example of Cave's writing. Even the repetition reminds me of the pastiche-style Trash writing of Stewart Home. There are also some glaring mistakes in it, such as the one at the start of Chapter 13. Have another read, 'cos Bunny gets out of the car without even parking it! It should still be going 'super slow' as Cave describes it. This may sound extremely petty, but for me, I have rarely seen such a thing in Cave's work. (And yes, I realise that, I too, have pre-judged this book before I had read it because of the author's previous work).

But no, I wouldn't recommend this: Sorry Mr. Cave, but I too wished I'd bought something else (please refer to another one star reviewer).
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on 8 September 2010
Nick Cave novels are rare birds: his last, to my knowledge, was a mud-soaked piece of Southern Gothic depravity from 1989 called And the Ass Saw the Angel, in itself a brilliant, unhinged piece of writing and in its way a perfect companion piece for Cave's music which at that time was exploiting Leadbelly's romantic outlaw legacy and turning out albums' worth of excellent murder ballads, mined from Mississippi earth, and burnishing the reputations of collaborators as unusual as Polly Harvey and Kylie Minogue in doing so.

If it seemed odd that an Australian should be one of the most dogged and purist perpetuators of the American romantic tradition, that was only until you saw Cave's screenplay, The Proposition, which renders his scorched-earth Australia like tones and makes a case for a rival tradition.

So The (lonesome?) Death of Bunny Munro, as a title and yea, even unto about half way down the first page, sounded like it would follow the same furrow: a doomed travelling salesman - so much Arthur Miller - in a washed-up hotel room, in Brighton, eviscerating his distant wife.

But did you see the dissonance there? *Brighton*?

I flipped ahead, before purchasing, just to check this was in fact Brighton, Arkansas, or some other such remote, exotic and God-forsaken place. But no, this is good old Brighton, UK, present day. And Bunny Munro is no Willie Loman. And this is, aside from its wilful and exuberant sordidity, a very different sort of Nick Cave novel from his last one.

As a rock musician, Nick Cave is smarter than your average bear (not hard, admittedly: the playful and extensive vocabulary of his lyrics has always attested to that) and here, Cave's linguistic invention is always on top form. This novel is over written with great zeal: deliberately and enjoyably - a talented writer consciously using a technique for a particular end, as opposed to the more common over-reach of an amateur.

Though its content ranges from icky to downright repulsive, Cave's delivery is witty enough to make it always entertaining and frequently funny. Former collaborator Minogue again makes an appearance, but this time we laugh (gently) at Kylie's expense (literally, she is the butt of the joke), and Cave apologises to her in his afterword, and to Avril Lavigne, who fares far worse at Cave's hands than the Where Are They Now file she's currently inhabiting would say she was entitled to.

So, unless you have a profound respect for Avril Lavigne, form excellent. Not so convinced about the substance, however.

For one thing, Bunny Munro has no plot to speak of: it is a simple downhill slide into oblivion. I fancy Cave might see it as a tragedy (I can't for the life of me work out what other motivation he'd have), but a tragedy requires a flawed hero who refuses a path to redemption at his own cost. There's no such dynamic here. Bunny Munro has no redeeming features; he's irredeemable and (so sayeth the first words of the book), doomed. There's no moral to be heeded here.

Nor are other available characters used to their potential. A murderous sex fiend, dressed as a devil, rampages down the country drawing ever nearer to Brighton, in a clear metaphorical parallel. But, just when it might get interesting (is this Bunny's doppelganger? Is this Bunny's fate? Will they confront each other?) the devil figure drops out of the story.

Bunny's son, Bunny junior, has an eye condition which Bunny wilfully ignores despite the boy's gentle reminders - I guess something statically figurative about that - but the condition gets no worse over the course of the novel. Bunny is dogged by constant interaction with a particular fleet of well-named lorries, but short of making the obvious point that Bunny is destined to be a "Dudman", it isn't clear what the point of these was either.

Basically, this isn't a story, as such. It's an expiration; a ghastly but meaningless descent into oblivion which happens to be queasily enjoyable.

There is some significance to be drawn from the fact that Irvine Welsh, whose novels tend to be of a piece (Filth particularly), was impressed. If that sort of thing floats your boat (it doesn't mine) you might be also. Otherwise, outside Cave's core fan base, Bunny Munro is likely to be of passing interest only.

Olly Buxton
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on 10 February 2018
How does one read a book like 'The Death of Bunny Munro'? Does one take it at face value, and decry its constant misogyny, its lack of any moral compass, and its unlikable protagonist? Or does one do what one might have done with Amis's 'Money' and enjoy the literary ride, or with Ellis's 'American Psycho' treat the book as satire, a commentary of consumerism culture where here sex and women are items to be consumed, though at the price of one's soul?

I was given this book as a Christmas present and it took me all year to bring myself to read it. I'm not a fan generally of non-writer writers; I didn't think much of Ethan Hawke's efforts, and would have preferred him to stick with the acting; I don't even like Nick Cave's music, so I was tempted to write this one off from the very start. It was only the dim and distant feeling of otherwise disappointing the gift-giver if I gave up that kept me going at the start, and when I looked beyond the purplish prose I managed to find the spirit to run on through to the end. I'm glad I did - 'Bunny Munro' was a surprisingly good read, and if nothing else will make me reconsider Nick Cave, both as a writer and as a singer. Perhaps, if it didn't sound so contrived and conceited, it would be better to call him a wordsmith and be done with it.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 9 June 2013
I wanted to like this, and as someone who is very keen on Nick Cave, and who lives in the city of Brighton & Hove (where the story is set), was confident that this would tick all my boxes. When the book was first published I went to an entertaining launch event where Nick Cave was interviewed by author Will Self. I am not sure why I left it until 2013 to read this book. Perhaps I sensed it was not up to Nick Cave's usual standard.

The story is summarised by the book's title. It's is about the death of Bunny Munro. Bunny Munro is a travelling door-to-door salesman who sells women's beauty products. His serial infidelities, and other character shortcomings, drive his wife to suicide. The majority of the book describes a road trip (if a few nights in hotels and a few sales calls to customers in and around Brighton and Hove can be called a road trip) with his nine year old son.

The Father-Son road trip echoes "The Road", however in this story the father barely registers his son's needs and feelings, and registers only the vaguest sense of love or responsibility. Bunny Munro is a monstrous character: vain, sex obsessed, egotistical, and deluded. Having created this monster, Nick Cave seems unsure what to do with him and the novel is essentially a sequence of meaningless attempted sexual encounters. There is no character development. Bunny's limited self-insight gives the character nowhere to go and his devoted son can barely work out what is going on. It all feels like a short story expanded into an overlong novel. Even the black humour generally falls wide of the mark. I enjoyed Nick Cave's writing style and the local setting, but beyond that was deeply disappointed by the flimsy story and Bunny's unremitting unpleasantness.

So, whilst this book is a major disappointment, at least we still have a wealth of great music; the memories of many live shows; marvellous film scores; and some brilliant film scripts.
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