It should surprise no one that Sean Penn’s debut novel is a bit of a provocative surprise. The satirical Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff is a dark, yet funny, take on American culture, capturing the best and the worst of the nation as seen through the eyes of a prototypical middle-aged entrepreneur who also happens to moonlight as a part-time assassin.
The controversial actor and activist now turned author sat down with Rolling Stone magazine in an attempt to shed some light on his first novel. The central theme in the interview was Penn’s unique perspective toward the process of writing that first book. Penn revealed how he had attempted the feat before but only got a few pages in before life got in the way and the plans were aborted. Writing the debut novel later in life has its perks, according to Penn. At that point in life, Penn felt less inhibited and freer to just be himself in his writing without fear of repercussions. Having achieved so much already in his life as an artist and activist, Penn did not feel the need to pander to a specific audience. When compared to filmmaking, writing is also liberating because it lacks the bondage of collaboration, and instead inspires individual thinking.
As is usually the case with Penn, controversy follows in his footsteps, and his novel is no exception. Penn ruffled feathers with both the premise of the book, the political undertones and his additional comments regarding the #metoo movement. It is not a shock that an artist as creative as Penn with a strong history of activism would find joy in writing a book as unpredictable as Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff. And judging by the pleasure he found in the writing process, it is unlikely that this will be his last effort.
Buy the book on Amazon.