Of the many books that look to criticize American culture and politics, Sean Penn’s new work “Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff” takes a somewhat obscure approach. Penn describes this book as meant to confuse the readers in some ways, and he seems to have succeeded. The book takes a satirical look at the current state of American affairs, telling the story of anti hero Bob. The book lacks a formal plot structure, but tells of Bob, a middle class boomer, who is antisocial and loathes his ex-wife. He works for a mysterious employer who sees older citizens as standing the way of globalization and progress. On the orders of his employer, Bob will go on mallet wielding sprees, eliminating these older citizens. Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff has received mixed reviews for Sean’s attempt at creativity and alliteration.
This is a trippy read, but through the chaos, Penn releases some interesting views on civil society and politics. Through the eyes of Bob, the reader witnesses the 2016 election, hears of the five police officers killed in Dallas, and also hears praise of Hugo Chavez. There is even a character that is similar in style and description to el Chapo Guzman. Through the pessimistic nature of Bob, the reader also gets insight into his thoughts on these issues, and the problems facing America. The book even ends with Bob writing an angry letter to “the landlord” calling him narcissistic. This landlord is obviously Trump.
At times, it is hard to distinguish Bob from Penn, and this appears to be deliberate. Penn and Bob are both baby boomers, and Penn like Bob, has strong views on world affairs. Penn is depicting his worldview through the eyes of Bob. Penn told CBS Morning that “some people are going to get this book, and some people… are not going to get this book.” This appears to be a good description, as the New York Times describes Penn’s “real interest… as capturing what America has become – and taking a mallet to it.” Sometimes it is through a cult satire, that true emotion and takeaways from the present moment can be best articulated.
Read California Blog’s take on the book: