Canongate £16.99 (278pp) £15.29 (free p&p) from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030

The Death of Bunny Munro, By Nick Cave

Nick Cave's musical career is easily summarised: 20 years of musical and lyrical excellence - first with The Birthday Party and then the Bad Seeds - each album an improvement on the last, reaching a high point with The Boatman's Call in 1997, a record that sits happily alongside Bob Dylan's Blood on The Tracks or Neil Young's On The Beach as one of the greatest rock records of the 20th century. Then a four-year hiatus during which he cleaned up and got married, followed by a sequence of records which have received near unanimous acclaim, yet are far more scattershot. Cave has moved from the chiselled perfection of his earlier lyrics to an anything-goes approach, as he notes in a lyric from "We Call Upon the Author": "Prolix! Prolix! Nothing a pair of scissors can't fix!"

This is relevant to Cave's career as a novelist. His first novel, And the Ass Saw the Angel (1989), was the perfect accompaniment to that first sequence of albums. His latest, The Death of Bunny Munro, is the perfect literary expression of Cave's later style, with several nods and winks for fans. While the first novel was florid and Faulknerian, taking place in a mythical Deep South that seemed as much the product of Cave's imagination as any real location, the second is (at least until some last minute fireworks) a work of contemporary kitchen-sink realism.

Cave has boasted that he wrote this novel in a few weeks, but this is not to the book's demerit. After the success of his movie, The Proposition, it was announced that he was working on a screenplay called Death of a Ladies' Man, which seems to have been the starting-point for this novel: both projects concern a priapic salesman and his sexual adventures in Brighton. After his wife commits suicide, Bunny seeks refuge in female flesh, heading steadily to his doom, ignoring his young son, Bunny Jr, as he complains about an ever-worsening eye complaint.

Some may be troubled by how well the author inhabits his seedy protagonist, but Cave has his defence ready, claiming he was creatively inspired by Valerie Solanas's S.C.U.M. manifesto and Englishmen's obsession with lad mags. While there's no doubting the seriousness of the book, Cave relishes writing seedy sex scenes as much as he once enjoyed writing about violence.

Not that there's anything wrong with this, but Cave's persona does allow him to deal with territory few other novelists could get away with. Who else could wax lyrical about Avril Lavigne's vagina and Kylie Minogue's bum safe in the knowledge that the objects of his attention will find it flattering rather than alerting security guards?

What truly elevates the novel is not Cave's thesis, but the smoothness of the prose and masterful combination of black comedy and sentiment.

Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Arts and Entertainment
War veteran and father of Peter and Laust Thoger Jensen played by Lars Mikkelson

TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success

Arts and Entertainment
Carey Mulligan in Far From The Madding Crowd
FilmCarey Mulligan’s Bathsheba would fit in better in The Hunger Games
Arts and Entertainment
Pandas-on-heat: Mary Ramsden's contribution is intended to evoke the compound the beasts smear around their habitat
Iart'm Here But You've Gone exhibition has invited artists to produce perfumes
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living