This spring marks the release of Sean Penn’s satirical novel “Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff.” This book according to many critics is a trippy read, that is designed in many ways to confuse the reader at times. Penn says that the style is meant to reflect the cult works in the likes of Thomas Pynchon and others. The book follows Bob, an angry baby boomer, who loathes his ex-wife and wields a secret. He works for a mysterious employer who has him kill older people with a mallet. The rational is that these people stand in the way of globalism and progress. Though the book has no formal plot, and seems strange at times, there are surprising truths about society.
During the book, Bob witnesses and reacts to the presidential election in 2016, he witnesses the killing of police officers in Dallas, and praises people in the likes of Hugo Chavez. There is even a character similar to El Chapo, which could reflect Penn’s meeting with the gangstar. This interesting take on society in the eyes of Bob, seems to be an elaborate look at the state of American affairs. Even towards the end, he writes an angry letter to the “landlord” calling him a narcissist. This landlord is obviously Donald Trump, and shows Penn’s feelings on him.
At times it is hard to distinguish Penn, and Bob from one another, and this seems to be the intent. Penn has always been a vocal political speaker, and is also a baby boomer. Penn seems to have made Bob unquantifiable on purpose for this reason. In an interview with CBS Morning, Penn says “Some people are going to get this book, and some people are… not going to get this book.” This seems to be on purpose, as the New York Times says that Penn’s “real interest here is capturing what America has become – and taking a mallet to it.” America is in an interesting moment, and Penn did a good job of describing this.
Read the NYT review here: