Friday, 12 February 2016

The Death Of Bunny Munro - Nick Cave


I've met Bunny Munro. He's out there. I've met him in city centre pubs on a Saturday night, in night clubs, in work places, on building sites, in factories and in offices. I've met him in management boardrooms, in ranks of police, in the mansions of the rich and the slum tenements of the poor. From the canyons of New York, to the flat fields of Holland, to the beaches of Crete, to the streets of your town. He's out there.
I've met Valerie Solanas also. She's out there as well. I've met her at anarchist bookfairs, at political protests, political meetings and demonstrations, at parties, at gigs and in backstreet pubs. From the squats of West Germany of old, to the social centres of Italy, to the kraakpanden of Holland, to the tower blocks of London. She's harder to find but she's out there.

Bunny Munro is the central character in Nick Cave's The Death Of Bunny Munro and to say he's a horrible creation is an understatement. He has no redeeming qualities in the slightest. He's an ignorant, selfish, misogynist, cheating, stealing, sex-obsessed monster. Valerie Solanas is famous for shooting Andy Warhol and for being the author of the SCUM Manifesto - the Society for Cutting Up Men.

In her manifesto, Solanas states her case immediately in the opening paragraph: 'Life in this society being, at best, an utter bore and no aspect of it being at all relevant to women, there remains to civic-minded, responsible, thrill-seeking females only to overthrow the government, eliminate the money system, institute complete automation and destroy the male sex'.
She then goes on to describe men thus: 'The male is completely egocentric, trapped inside himself, incapable of empathizing or identifying with others, of love, friendship, affection or tenderness. He is a completely isolated unit, incapable of rapport with anyone. His responses are entirely visceral, not cerebral; his intelligence is a mere tool in the service of his drives and needs; he is incapable of mental passion, mental interaction; he can't relate to anything other than his own physical sensations'.
And so on and so forth. The SCUM Manifesto is extreme, militant, provocative and controversial. It also repeatedly hits the nail on the head when it comes to summarising men. For example: 'The male will swim a river of snot, wade nostril-deep through a mile of vomit, if he thinks there'll be a friendly pussy awaiting him. He'll screw a woman he despises, any snaggle-toothed hag, and, furthermore, pay for the opportunity'.
And who could argue with that?

Nick Cave has obviously read the SCUM Manifesto because his Bunny Munro character is the epitome of man as defined by Valerie Solanas, resulting in a very rude book but rude in a horrible way. Bunny is a door-to-door salesman of beauty products in Brighton and he's the best. He could sell a bicycle to a barracuda, as he puts it. He's a master of the art. He's also, as put by what might be the Devil, 'a fucking trip, man! Out of this world, baby'. In a league of his own. 'A fucking inspiration!'
Bunny's on a quest, searching for the holy grail. Seeking Valhalla. We're talking here, however, about a character in a book written by Nick Cave, he of the Birthday Present, the Bad Seeds, and Grinderman. So with that in mind, should it come as a surprise that Bunny imagines Valhalla might be found in Avril Lavigne's pants? And if a homeless, dying, junky girl turning blue from having overdosed on heroin happens to look like Avril Lavigne due to the black bags beneath her eyes resembling Lavigne's 'kooky' eye-liner then so be it. For Bunny - who thinks the song Spinning Around by Kylie Minogue is an 'orgiastic paean to buggery' - it matters not.

Nick Cave is a very good, very clever, very intelligent writer and there's a lot going on in The Death Of Bunny Munro: Recurring themes, premonitions, profane dialogue, comedy, tragedy, a relentless downward spiral, delirium and redemption. It has depth. All held together and made palatable by the inclusion in the story of Bunny's 9 year-old son whose love for his father never diminishes and is genuinely the stuff of heart-rending genius.
Cave's story is of a dead man walking and is often dark and at times disturbing. Light, hope and love, however, is shed by the son and it is he that in many ways the book is actually about. Why The Death Of Bunny Munro hasn't been made into a film yet is anyone's guess, as it's crying out for it. Though saying that, there's really no possible way that a film could better the book, so perhaps that's the reason? Also, might there be objections from Avril Lavigne? Who knows? If given the choice, perhaps she might even wish to star in it? Though unless she's looking for a serious change of image, I very much doubt it.
John Serpico

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