America’s resident Actor-Director-Provocateur Sean Penn has finally taken pen to paper, or voice to recorder, to tell a story on his own terms, free of Hollywood’s constraints. The result is every bit as fun and thought provoking, weird and attention seeking as any fan of Penn could want. The inanity starts with the title, Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff. That’s a moniker that doesn’t sit quietly on the shelf.
Penn’s foray into fiction began interestingly enough as an audio book. Penn narrated that original version back in 2016 under the auspicious alias Pappy Pariah. It was all meant to be Penn’s take on the national climate, political and social, but this was before the bizarreness of the 2016 election was well underway. Let’s face it, it was an election year primed for exploratory, subversive fiction.
From these origins, and a wacky election for the ages, comes a story about Bob Honey, a multi-talented handy man who happens to moonlight as a government assassin. Bob’s story leads the reader through scenes that feel both fictional and real life, including murdered police officers, an overhyped media, and a GOP Convention as chaotic and terrifying as any dystopian world.
Penn’s voice comes through Bob loud and clear, as writer and character reassess a changed, and changing, American society seemingly descending into disarray and disintegration. Towards the end of the story, Penn’s well-known social views and angry brand of politicking bound glaringly into Bob Honey’s story, as Bob writes a letter to the President. A President who just so happens to be a “violently” juvenile 70-year-old with “cotton candy hair”. Bob even challenges the President to a Twitter duel.
That Penn has an outlet in which to vent owes as much to his own celebrity as to the literary merit of the story itself. Wherever readers fall on this one, it is an entertaining ride. Penn seems just fine with that, telling CBS Sunday Morning, “Some people are going to get this book and some people are… not going to get this book. And that really is what I’d like to say about me, you know?”