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  • Allie

Hands Are Hard, Bunny

This week I began in earnest to re-teach myself how to draw using an instructional book called Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards. 

With Beethoven symphonies playing through my earbuds, I sat on the bed with my drawing board to do my first upside-down drawing since high school. Upside-down drawings are a classic exercise used to interrupt the left-brain deluge of logic and language in order to let you see just what is—lines and angles and shapes, a type of seeing done best by the right side of the brain. 

In this case, my upside-down drawing was a replication of Picasso’s portrait of Igor Stravinsky. Even upside-down I could clearly identify Igor’s hands, defying the purpose of drawing upside down. With my left brain now labeling those particular lines and shapes as if through a megaphone (Thumb! Wrist!) my mind also offered up a quote from Mona Awad’s novel Bunny:

Hands are hard, Bunny.

And I chuckled. The quote comes to me whenever I encounter a difficult or unwanted task (Running is hard, Bunny. Dishes are hard, Bunny.) This time it needed no alteration. Hands are hard, Bunny. 

I like being reminded of the book Bunny. The more I reflect on it, the more I like it. Bunny is a little trippy, at times violent, and so darkly funny. 

In the novel Samantha returns to Warren University for the second year of her MFA program in creative writing. Also in her cohort are four women who create an exclusive clique. Strangely infantile in dress and manner, but obviously well-to-do, the clique both repulses Samantha and draws her in. When Samantha receives an invitation to their “Smut Salon” she attends, upsetting the close friendship with her roommate Ava. As Ava disappears from her life, Samantha is drawn deeper into the world of these four women, a world in which reality is muddied by drugs and drink and smeared with rabbit guts. When workshop veers off-campus into sinister territory, Samantha must face her creations, her actions, her classmates, herself.

Now, you might be wondering, what does this have to do with hands? Well, in these “workshops,” the ladies take turns transforming real, live rabbits into men. The men always wear gloves or some form of hand covering because no one can ever make the hands right. Using their go-to diminutive, they explain to Samantha, “Hands are hard, Bunny.” Given how cruel these girls can be—not just to rabbits, but to outsiders—this expression shows the exceptional grace they can extend to those within their fold. 

Awad’s writing hits you over the head with metaphor, but I had so much fun making sense of what happens to Samantha and how she comes to terms with it. When I finished Bunny, I desperately wanted to talk it through with someone. I landed on a podcast episode of The Librarian Is In entitled “Bunny, I Love You!” in which librarians Frank and Gwen discuss the book. If you choose to read Bunny, first of all let me know so we can talk about how great it is, but also check out what Frank and Gwen have to say here

And when you come across something in life that’s not going your way, remember, Hands are hard, Bunny! 

Have you read Bunny? What did you think of it? What books have you come across that are darkly comical? Share your thoughts and recommendations in the comments! 

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