BOOKS: Bunny Modern

David Bowman
Bunny Modern
Little, Brown

Daring to go deep into the heart of fantasy fiction, David Bowman unabashedly proposes a postmillennium world in his second novel, Bunny Modern. No small undertaking, that: Snobbish savants often shelve the futuristic novel on the lowest literary rung, fearing its role as the male counterpart to the "female melodrama." Surely, Bowman--a book critic for the New York Times and Pulse--knew what he was up against. Nevertheless, he bravely puts a love story at the core of this amazingly absurd yet plausible venture.

In Bunny Modern, electricity has ceased to flow. Professional nannies, due to a baby shortage, pack guns in New York City. A man named Dylan (named after the ultimate iconoclast) develops a clairvoyant power called "sheldraking." We follow him as he telepathically stalks and becomes enamored with his target, Claire. She is the one toting a precious Glock, for she belongs to a militant class of au pairs. To enhance her crack guardian skills, she snorts a synthetic drug called Vengeance, a powder that makes her a killer of infant kidnappers while also hampering her from bonding with her wards--that is, until she meets a New Jersey toddler named Soda.

Love and babies: What was Bowman thinking? Any author who'd opt to steer a plot into such trivial waters would have to be either a sap or a maniacal master. Clearly, Bowman is one of the latter--not to mention a writer's writer and a soft-spoken comedian. His prose is littered with willfully misattributed American-pop references (e.g., Bob Dylan's "Wild Horses"), obviously mocking the aforementioned toadies. And when he talks about love, Bowman reveals a feminism sans male-bashing: He goes to great lengths to grasp the intangible, to describe love as a substance that runs through "Cone Heart," and to continue his metaphor of electricity as life fluid. Halfway through the novel, our Dylan finally meets Claire in real life. And Bowman, by allowing a romance to ensue, brings us to the brink of--dare I say it?--sentimentality. Nothing wrong with that.

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