Avril Lavigne’s vagina and Kylie Minogue’s ass are just two of the abiding obsessions of the monstrous protagonist in Nick Cave’s new novel – The Death of Bunny Munro.

In 2006, as part of Grinderman, Cave performed the memorable ‘No Pussy Blues’, but his Bunny can make no such complaints. He’s a character who regards himself as a “world-class cocksman” , a God’s gift to woman and his maniacal one track mind means that every female, young or old, fat or thin, pretty or ugly is regarded in purely sexual terms.

This view of male sexuality is depressingly recognisable although Cave over eggs the pudding – in exaggerating for effect we’re  left with someone with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. The sex is relentlessly seedy and joyless – he even masturbates at his wife’s funeral.

Cave has commented that Bunny’s desires are simplistic and infantile. he certainly lacks any imagination or softness; aside from getting his rocks off , no other thoughts seem to enter his head. As he tries to chat up one woman on the phone, she asks him ” Where are you?” to which he replies “Where am I? – I’m all over the fucking place”. He eyes up a spotty cashier in McDonald’s and “thinks she is similar to Kate Moss, only shorter, fatter and more ugly”.

Written in a six-week period during an American tour with the Bad Seeds, Cave  tells the tale of a middle-aged man-child set adrift by his wife’s sudden death. With his 9-year-old son (Bunny Junior) in tow Bunny works through a client list selling beauty products as a door to door salesman. In a battered Fiat Punto, this bizarre road trip in the Brighton area of the UK is conceived as a means to seek out desperate housewives who are as  needy  of sex as he is. We learn that Bunny is graced with a “considerable member” which may explain his impressive score rate but the novel charts his demise as he gets increasingly slobby and desperate.

If he feels anything for his son there are few signs of it – mostly the boy is left sitting in the car while he conducts his sordid business. Despite this, Bunny Junior worships the ground his father walks on; implying that blood ties bind us together whatever the circumstances.

The depiction of this bright young boy is the best thing about the novel – the antics of Bunny senior are so appalling and grotesque that you can’t even think of him as a comical anti-hero. There’s a sub plot of a horned (horny?) killer who travels from the north to south of Britain seeking victims en route, a demonic fiend who , like Bunny, seems to be literally possessed by the devil.

A quote from Auden – “We’ve got to love each other or die” – is a stark contrast to Bunny’s  debauchery. Cave presumably wants to show the depths men sink to in order to satisfy their insatiable lust for sexual gratification.

“I am damned” , is the first line; a self-awareness that only come when Bunny  knows he is going to die – his last words are “I found this world a hard place to be good in” . On the evidence we’re presented with, he didn’t try too hard.

It’s left to Nick Cave himself, in his acknowledgements to offer “love, respect and apologies” to Kylie and Avril.

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