“Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff”: Taking a Mallet to the State of the World

This spring, Sean Penn has released a satirical, cult, novel that tells the story of “Bob.” It is called “Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff.” Bob is a middle class boomer, who lives alone. Bob Honey is antihero who dislikes his ex-wife tremendously, and is pessimist about the current state of the world. During his free time, he will have people over for dinner, and will sometimes go on mallet wielding sprees, killing older citizens. He works for an employer who sees these people as standing in the way of globalization.

It has been described as “a trippy” read, and according to Penn is meant to confuse the reader at times. Its lack of a formal plot is central to its theme, and Penn compares the style to the likes of cult authors such as Thomas Pynchon. However, through the chaos, there appear to be some truths expressed by the plot. For example, Bob witnesses the 2016 Presidential election, he discusses the killing of five police officers in Dallas, and also praises Hugo Chavez. There even is a character with striking similarities to Chapo Guzman. The realizations that Bob has throughout the book seem to serve a purpose to the reader about the state of world affairs. Even towards the end, Bob writes a letter to the “landlord”, he calls this landlord a narcissist, who is obviously Trump.

At times, it is hard to distinguish the voice of Bob, from that of Sean Penn. This is likely on purpose, as Penn is also a boomer, and has always expressed strong opinions against the government. The book likely expresses the worldview of Sean Penn, but does it in a very abstract and unconventional way. Penn told CBS Morning that “some people are going to get this book, and some people are… not going to get this book.” This is probably the case for a lot of young readers; the New York Times says “His real interest here is capturing what America has become – and taking a mallet to it.”