Mock Duck (mockduck) wrote,
Mock Duck

Locations in 'The Death of Bunny Munro'

As a Brightonian, when I read Nick Cave's novel The Death of Bunny Munro, I must have a very different experience than someone who's unfamiliar with the city.

Cave set the novel in and around Brighton, so you find yourself accompanying the text with strong mental images as Bunny mentions picking up girls in the Funky Buddha club, or visits his boss' small, sad office above an off-licence on Western Road, or goes for a pint at the Wick pub.

I had the idea of plotting the points on a Google map the first time I read the book, but I was a couple of chapters in by then, and more intent on finishing it than on anything else. Three years later when the idea came back to me, I was surprised to find that no-one else had yet done it. So I did.

There are 43 mentions of specific places, most of them immediately identifiable either by streetname, or because they're well-known Brighton sights or establishments. There are a few places, like hotels, where the descriptions of the interiors and staff are so unflattering that presumably Cave, or his publishers Canongate, thought it politic to change the name. But it is clear that Cave had a very strong idea of precisely where every piece of action occured, to the extent that I found myself wondering whether he drove round Bevendean or Newhaven as research (or was familiar with them for some other obscure reason). As he can barely walk through the North Laine without generating over-excited Instagram pictures and Twitter updates (guilty), perhaps he, too, turned to Google Maps to do some of his research.

I hope people will find the map when they read the book - particularly people far from Brighton, who may never have visited the city, but will be able to add a dimension to their reading by employing Streetview. Although, as the world is always sunny in Streetview, it may make an odd match to such a dark work.

Plotting points on maps is, I have to say, a very mySociety-style activity - but I don't think I was influenced by my workmates here. As I say, the idea first came to me three years ago. However, what my far more clever colleagues do may have inspired my further thoughts, to wit, if only the book was in an open data format, you could tie the map in with the Kindle or iBook editions for a geolocation-rich reading experience.
Tags: books, brighton, nick cave

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