University of Tasmania
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Music as muse : excerpt of Earworm, a novel, plus an accompanying exegesis : \Will Bunny stay dead? : The unreconstructed male in Grinderman and The Death of Bunny Munro\""

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posted on 2023-05-27, 10:59 authored by Varney, CM
This thesis consists of an excerpt of a novel, Earworm, plus an accompanying exegesis, Will Bunny Stay Dead?: the Unreconstructed Male in Grinderman and The Death of Bunny Munro.‚ÄövÑvp Earworm is a novel narrated by a pop tune. The fictional love song, Empty Fairground,‚ÄövÑvp echoes within the consciousnesses of several characters, either skulking in the back of the mind or pushing to the forefront of thought. It connects readily with the memories and fantasies of its hosts.‚ÄövÑvp The more meaning each person associates with the song, the greater the hold it has within their mind. The novel explores the way that pop culture affects us, fusing inextricably with our reminiscences and giving voice to attitudes and identity. It plays with the relationships between language and music, with the prose often reading like lyrics. Musical terms and imagery abound. Earworm Synopsis: The novel divides into five tracks.‚ÄövÑvp The first two introduce Nicole, a twenty-two year old student in Hobart who believes she was conceived while the hit Empty Fairground‚ÄövÑvp was playing. When Nicole discovers her recently deceased father was not her biological parent she undergoes a crisis of identity and begins to hate the tune that she had previously adored. Track Three concerns Spencer, an academic living in Adelaide and Nicole's unwitting biological father. Lingering in a passionless marriage strained by the grief of a stillborn daughter, Spencer uses the song to revive memories of the affair he had with Nicole's mother in a distant Tasmanian summer. Spencer is drawn to Marla, one of his students. Track Four draws the two main characters closer as Nicole spies on Spencer in Adelaide while trying to brace herself for an encounter. She hopes that Spencer will provide clues to her own identity. Spencer, meanwhile, is tempted by infidelity. Nicole plans to overdose at a reunion concert by JayJay, the band that wrote and recorded Empty Fairground.‚ÄövÑvp She will die to the same tune that accompanied her conception. At the same concert, Spencer prepares to end his marriage via a phone call. The narrator yearns to protect Nicole and prevent Spencer's folly, yet cannot inject direct thoughts into its hosts. Can the song that exists in their heads juggle fantasies and recollections effectively enough to save a marriage ‚Äö- and a life? The final hidden‚ÄövÑvp track presents an epilogue. The excerpt of Earworm presented for assessment comes from the beginning of Track Three. It introduces Spencer and his wife, Vivienne. Spencer rediscovers Empty Fairground‚ÄövÑvp and indulges in memories of his youthful fling. He is attracted to Marla, who is trying to conclude a relationship with the unstable Griff. It presents a new side of our storyteller as the narrator is intoxicated by the speed metal cover of itself that roars in Marla's mind. Please note: in order to maintain consistency with citations within the exegesis, the page numbering of the Earworm excerpt retains the pagination of the novel manuscript. Exegesis: Will Bunny Stay Dead?: the Unreconstructed Male in Grinderman and The Death of Bunny Munro‚ÄövÑvp In developing the voice of the narrator of Earworm I have attempted to steep the prose in musical allusion. It was therefore instructive to explore connections between literature and music in the accompanying exegesis. I elected to examine two side projects in the artistic trajectory of Nick Cave: the novel The Death of Bunny Munro (2009) and the eponymous debut album by Cave's offshoot band Grinderman. Cave is primarily a songwriter and musician but has also written novels, short stories, plays and screenplays. He is an intriguing candidate for a study of the ways in which literature and music interrelate. Moreover, Cave considers himself a narrative songwriter (Buck). The two projects chosen share themes, language and a sense of humour that is broader than Cave's usual mordant wit. Both projects feature manifestations of the unreconstructed male‚ÄövÑvp and a study of Cave's attitude to this stereotype provides insight into the ways in which song and story interact. The exegesis also demonstrates how The Death of Bunny Munro was informed by Cave's longstanding work with his main band, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. This in turn shines a light on the musical influences that construct the narrator's diction and syntax in Earworm. Cave, perhaps to the surprise of many who consider him bleak and menacing, considers himself to be first and foremost a creator of love songs (Cave \Secret\" 1). This dovetails neatly with my narrator who is proud to be a love song and who allows ready identification with the genre to colour its interpretations of the machinations emotions and complexities of the humans whose minds it inhabits."


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