So I'm sitting in the Murray Street last night...
... with a bunch of cool people, having some drinks and charcuterie, and I look over at the corner seat of our table and I think, not for the first time, "well, hell, that really is Nick Cave over there."
It's really gratifying when people you've been looking forward to meeting turn out to be as cool as you want them to be. Nick was gracious and straightforward and not at all disconcerting, except for the fact that he looks just like Nick Cave and that can be kind of disconcerting in itself, because you keep suddenly remembering that he's a rock star, and he certainly looks like one, all rail-thin and black suit and big rings and all.
And he did a really good reading and interview with David O'Meara - it seemed like they hit it off in the half hour or so they had to chat before the reading. David did a great job, too: the interview was relaxed and interesting. They talked about the book, but also about the process of songwriting versus fiction writing, how his writing style has changed over the years, and somehow got into a conversation about the screenplay "Gladiator II" (or, as he wanted to title it, "Christ Killer") which apparently Russell Crowe asked him to write and which involves Maximus going to purgatory and being forced to go back to Earth by the old gods to kill all the Christians, then joining up with the Christians to fight every war in history, because "he can't die, for some fucked up reason." It was hilarious and completely out of the blue. Some of the things he said about the writing process and where Bunny Munro came from is repeated here, in a short interview with the New Yorker.
I've been meaning to write about the book and having no time: I finished it last weekend, I think. It's an astonishing book. The main character is a delusional monster who you still, somehow, find yourself sympathizing with. Or at least pitying, he's so completely being destroyed by his desires and addictions. There's a kind of weird anti-catharsis in the end, where horrible things happen but without any of the usual restoring of balance that we've come to expect from a story that ends with its protagonist's death. Bunny isn't redeemed (and Cave said some interesting things last night about our need for 'redemption' in narrative - "Redemption from what?" he asked. "From being human?") and Bunny Junior may not be rescued, and nothing, eventually, is put right. There isn't even any forgiveness, unless, perhaps, from the reader, who's been inside Bunny's head and seen how awful and pitiable and deluded he is. It's not the other characters' job to forgive Bunny for being human, it's ours.
Anyway. Just really glad that I liked the book, love the music, and then got to discover that I like the man too. We had a really good evening, he called it a night around midnight, and flew out today, having told his publicity person that this show was the highlight of the book tour so far. (Hooray for Ottawa, says I.)
Posted by Kathryn Hunt
at 12:34 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 18 September 2009 6:29 PM EDT