25th October 2010

Judge a Book by its Cover – The Death of Bunny Munro

Meet Bunny Munro, a self-centred, chain-smoking, irresponsible sex addict who “just found this world a hard place to be good in”.

Judge a Book by its Cover – This week The Mancunion Literature section decided to have a little experiment, and see if the classic theory of ‘judging a book by its cover’, really does work.

Clair Gordon, a 2nd year Linguistics student, was sent into a bookshop and told to pick up the first one that grabbed her attention. First of all Clair headed for the Erotic Fiction section, but was gently steered away to the tamer, good old fiction section and this is what she found.

Meet Bunny Munro, a self-centred, chain-smoking, irresponsible sex addict who “just found this world a hard place to be good in”. After his wife kills herself, Bunny hits the road with his nine year old son going from door to door selling all sorts of beauty products, to women he tries his level best to sleep with.

Despite being a tragic story in many ways, I found it difficult to sympathise with Cave’s protagonist, a man that comments on the fact that his wife’s “tits look good”, whilst she lifelessly hangs from the security girdle in the bedroom of their council flat in Brighton. However, after having time to reflect on the mess of a man that is Bunny Munro, I guess his awful attitude and one-track mind is what makes him interesting.

The relationship between Bunny and his son is where the heart and emotion of the story lies. The boy is a quiet, intelligent and adorable splash of colour, in the cold and raw illustration of Bunny’s life. Despite Bunny being a terrible role model, Bunny Junior adores his father and, unfortunately, you get the feeling he wants to be just like his Dad when he grows up. I wanted to pluck the boy out of the book and take him under my wing. As Bunny Junior is left alone to his thoughts whilst his father drinks, smokes and pursues anything with a vagina, he begins to see his mother’s ghost from time to time and the conversations he has with her are moving, but I wanted more.

On reading the blurb I expected a father, son relationship similar to that of the characters in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, but unfortunately I found it was lacking. It was more about the two Bunnys’ separate experiences of one life, and I would have liked more attention paid to them as a family unit.

Cave’s crude narration and explicit descriptions, “he dispenses a gout of goo into a cum-encrusted sock he keeps under the seat”, are slightly too much at times but rather amusing all the same. “A potentially hot Arab chick…(oh, man, labia from Arabia)”, is a personal favourite. I enjoyed Cave’s writing style, but the excessive mentioning of Avril Lavigne’s vagina, and Kylie Minogue’s famous behind, was just unnecessary in my opinion.

Despite being touched by Bunny Junior’s character, and having the occasional giggle at Cave’s unusual style, I wasn’t satisfied when I came to read the last page. I enjoyed the book, it was different, but what I thought would be an intricate story of father and son turned out to be a fairly two-dimensional read. The cover grabbed my attention, but unfortunately the book itself didn’t.

Perhaps I would’ve been better going for the erotica section after all.

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