Addison Duling

Sean Penn’s Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff: Inside the Book

Summer is the perfect time to crack open a new read. Sean Penn’s book, “Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff” has made a splashy debut. Critics from Entertainment Weekly and USA Today recommend it as a good fit for anyone who loves satire, but it’s also hard to swallow.


First of all, even the critics have a difficult time following what, exactly, is going on here. Is it prose? Is it thinly-veiled political commentary? Is Bob Honey the voice of Sean Penn’s inner monologue?


The plot of Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff follows the book’s title character, Bob Honey, as he works a variety of odd jobs, which includes part-time assassin. The world Bob Honey lives in is a dystopian one; however, critics note that it is closely mirrored on our own. There is a scene outside the Republican National Convention. The president of this other world, critics observe, reads like a stand-in for President Donald Trump. The president of Bob Honey’s America is referred to as Mr. Landlord, a man with “cotton candy hair.”

Bob Honey is a divorced man with a beautiful girlfriend. He is also outraged by the state of the society he lives in and how far it’s gone downhill. Close to the end of the book, there is an open letter to Mr. Landlord. Critics note this may be a moment where Sean Penn’s own political beliefs spill into the writing.


The book has drawn comparisons to the work of David Foster Wallace, Hunter S. Thompson, and Thomas Pynchon. It even mirrors David Foster Wallace’s writing style with the inclusion of sly, plot-driving footnotes. Salman Rushdie, himself a master of satire and magical realism, has praised the book.


USA Today notes that Sean Penn’s writing style may be challenging for some to get into. There’s a lot of alliteration, especially in the beginning, and Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff occasionally dips into lines of poetry. The epilogue itself takes the form of a poem that touches upon everything from the Las Vegas shooting to the Me Too movement.


Overall, critics say, Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff is a wild, entertaining read.

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