When you're sitting at a bar reading a DayGlo pink hardbound book, everyone thinks you're reading something dirty. They're right. Nick Cave's new novel, The Death of Bunny Munro, is pink, pink, pink for a reason. Originally written as a screenplay for director John Hillcoat after their successful team-up on the 2005 western The Proposition, the sweetly sordid Bunny is Cave's second novel—written 20 years after his first, And the Ass Saw the Angel.
Bunny Munro is the world's horniest traveling salesman. He's more wolf than rabbit—as every woman he sees becomes a walking, breathing sex doll. Everything is erotically charged for him: "Groups of scissor-legged school things with their pierced midriffs, logoed jogging girls, happy, rumpy dog-walkers, couples actually copulating on the summer lawns, beached pussy prostrate beneath the erotically shaped cumulus...." In essence, Bunny is a monster. A sex maniac who sells beauty products door to door in Southern England, he invariably beds most of the housewives he encounters.
Meanwhile, Bunny's son Bunny Jr. is a quiet, bookish nine-year-old who looks after his mentally disturbed mom, Libby, while his father is away on "business." But after a particularly prolonged absence from Bunny Sr., Libby kills herself, leaving both father and son to grieve in their respective manners—rutting and reading—as they embark on a sales trip through English seaside towns and roads.
It's in this father-son relationship that Bunny moves from being just a scintillating, Irvine Welsh-esque villain to a fully formed, charismatic character of interest. Bunny eventually achieves a level of redemption through his love of Bunny Jr., and combined with the horrors he inflicts on the women of the English countryside, it makes for an interesting dichotomy of benign and demented. This shift from Cocksman to Salesman to Deadman—as the parts of the book are titled—make The Death of Bunny Munro a discrete Nick Cave work, if not a discreet one. While in the novel the following questions are directed at Bunny, they seem more apropos for the singular Cave: "'Hey, man, I love the quiff. What are you? A jokeman? A magician? A singer?'" a man asks Bunny. "'Yeah, something like that,'" he says.