Corey Seymour Unearths the Why Behind Sean Penn’s New Book, “Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff”
In his discussion about the events leading up to the publication of “Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff,” Corey Seymour draws out the sometimes reclusive Sean Penn on why he’s taking a new direction in his career. The actor, director, producer, and playwright is renown for his social activism as well as gritty roles and hard-hitting interviews with notorious figures like Hugo Chavez and Joaquín Guzmán, the Mexican drug kingpin more commonly known as El Chapo. Now, he’s taking a turn toward comedy as a fiction writer.
The novel, Penn’s first, is the tale of a septic tank salesman who leads a double life as a part-time contract killer. Although that plot line doesn’t seem to be comedic fodder on the surface, “Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff” has been touted as a biting satire about alienation in modern society; some have even suggested that Bob Honey is an alter-ego for Penn himself.
In the interview, Seymour and Penn discuss the collaborative nature of film making or producing plays versus the solitary activity of writing books. Penn suggests that he’s at a point in his life where he prefers to work alone, and that there may be other novels coming in the future. He then proceeds to discuss preconceived notions about the extent to which other satirists influenced the tone of his book, which has been compared to the works of Mark Twain, Hunter S. Thompson, Charles Bukowski, and Thomas Pynchon, but he prefers to leave that judgment to his readers. Bukowski and Thomas are both authors whom Sean Penn knew in life.
The interview then turns to Penn’s somewhat unorthodox approach to writing “Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff” by dictating it to his assistant. He admits that it was due more to utility than quirkiness. The newly-minted author simply has never gotten the hang of using a computer, and he can talk faster than he can write in longhand.
The remainder of the article discusses the nature of controversy, the influx and proliferation of social movements, and the irony of society’s habit of focusing on subjects that are meant to be inclusive while further dividing us. Those are themes which are explored within the pages of “Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff.” Other threads that run within the narrative, and are lambasted with impunity, are the notion of branding and society’s obsession with fame, notoriety, and celebrity itself. The book has received positive reactions from a number of critics and public figures as disparate as comedienne Sarah Silverman and author Salman Rushdie.