Who is Bob Honey and why should we care? Bob Honey is actor Sean Penn’s literary alter ego and quirky anti-hero who serves as the main character of Penn’s first novel…”Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff?” A first novel by an unknown author seldom gains much notice but given Penn’s notoriety as an actor and outspoken activist Bob Honey is getting it’s share of curious looks.
The novel was written in 2016 and has had mixed reviews since hitting the shelf. Some take the well-known actor to task for overindulging in literary gimmicks. One reviewer notes an addiction to alliteration early on while introducing his main character Bob Honey. This is Penn’s first novel so a pass might be appropriate here. Penn’s narrative leans to the satirically absurd following the adventures of a middle-aged suburban divorcee’ who works as a waste management consultant and part-time assassin. If all that sounds strange..it is.
The character of Bob Honey is strangely anti-social and aloof. He’s a baby-boomer in a society that seems to have spiraled out of control. No longer is America the girl he fell in love with but only the ghost of a girl he doesn’t know.
In the end “Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff” seems to be a satirical look at modern American culture with it’s many flaws set against a backdrop of the 2016 presidential election. What better way to comment on American politics, pop culture and society than absurd satire? References to real world events including North Korea and the “Me Too” movement show up in a epilogue poem and thinly veiled depictions of our current commander-in-chief are apparent as Penn refers to “Mr. Landlord” as a violently immature seventy-year-old-man-boy with money.
Penn himself is quoted as saying he “had” to write “Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff”. That’s evident given the fictional “Bob Honey” and Penn’s own politics and world view are mirror images. In Penn’s words “I’m not in love with acting anymore”. Fortunately for us artists like Sean Penn are never satisfied with quiet reflection on past accomplishments. Men like Sean Penn can’t be quiet. He’s angry about the current “social” situation as he sees it and Bob Honey is the mouthpiece by which he expresses his contempt for all that has gone wrong.
“Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff” is a reactionary rant by a well respected and accomplished actor of our time. For those willing to wade through its deeply satirical madness to find some hint of undeniable underlying truth it can be a surprisingly satisfying read.