The first novel by actor, screenwriter, and, larger-than-life auteur Sean Penn rests on the shoulders of his protagonist, a character who reflects the zeitgeist of the age, Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff. What is the stuff that Bob Honey does? He cobbles together a livelihood through a diverse stream of revenue, such as installing pyrotechnics for dictators, procuring septic tanks for Jehovah’s Witnesses, liberating imprisoned Hasidic Jews, by accident, from foreign prisons, and assassinating the elderly with his preferred weapon of choice: a mallet.
Some critics are comparing Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff to such cultural mavens as Terry Southern and Thomas Pynchon. When asked about his influences by Rolling Stone Magazine, Penn stresses that “I don’t have the retention to be influenced by writers.” Penn goes on to state that the last thing that he as an artist/author wants to be is influenced by reading. For Penn, the influence that moves him in writing fiction is life itself. The character and the times inform the work.
However, it seems that Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff, with its flawed protagonist in the guise of the middle-aged man at the center of this lively book, is influencing people. Not only are commentators and critics taking notice of this first novel by Penn, but the Commander-in-Chief has weighed in. This proves that the 45th President of the United States does familiarize himself with literature.
Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff first arrived in the world as an audiobook because Penn, although an accomplished screenwriter, was learning the process of book publishing and was unsure of the publishing timeline. He wanted the material out and available to the public before the 2016 Presidential elections, and so offered an audiobook of Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff, which was a work in progress, while the print format is the complete opus.
Penn notes that his novel is a commentary on where we are in this country; a complex period in history that is trying to downplay its complexity. It is this complexity that Penn captures in this wry, witty work of fiction.
Review the full book here: