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.