Chances are if a friend were to ask you what you know Sean Penn best from, your answer would be something regarding his acting career perhaps his role in the hit biopic Milk, or maybe it would be his marriage (and subsequent divorces) to two of Hollywood’s biggest celebrities Madonna and Robing Wright, or perhaps you could even remember him for his political and social activism that won him both praises and criticism — however one thing is for certain: I bet you would never think to include “writing a satirical novel” on that list. But, with Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff the California native has done just that.
The actor’s foray into the world of authorship has received decidedly mixed reviews, no doubt a result of the wacky and at times slap-sticky nature of the book. With that being said, satire (particularly in the current political climate) has never been a particularly easy field to break into, especially on one’s first time, for taking that risk and writing in an honest and natural voice Sean Penn is winning some applause from critics. In the novel, the main character (the titular Bob Honey) spends a great deal of the plot trying to break out of his decidedly anti-social shell. Additionally, Bob Honey has given up his career in the field of waste management to become an assassin — and not just any assassin, an assassin who focuses their ire on old people and uses a mallet as his weapon of choice (yes, really).
Truth be told there is no easy way to sum up a book, such as Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff, that is blanketed in multiple layers of satire, irony, and philosophical musings. This is one of those books that you could take a couple times to read through and still pick up little easter eggs along the way. In that way, it is somewhat emblematic of Sean Penn’s career thus far — it can not be easily pigeonholed, it tries to do (and I would argue does) a lot of things at once, and its interests and goals are decidedly varied. Each reader of Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff will likely take away their own lessons from the book, and that is something that is not easy for an author to accomplish. While it is still far too early to tell if writing is the next, more permanent stage in Sean Penn’s varied career his first attempt at putting together a book is, beyond all else, a noble effort.