Saturday, 23 March 2019

Bob Honey Who Just do Stuff - Maybe stop doing stuff

Even the cover is a lazy imitation of the concept of "Quirk"

Recently a book club I take part in decided to tackle Sean Penn's novel Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff. I should probably mention its an online book club that covers bad books so we can have some catharsis. I had never heard of this book nor knew much about Sean Penn besides the name and that he's an actor.

Anyway, I really didn't like it, its in my opinion the worst book we've covered and the worst one I managed to finish.

Here's my thoughts broken up with some screenshots to prove I'm not making any of this up.

"Whenever he felt these collisions of incubus and succubus, he punched his way out of the proletariat with the purposeful inputting of covert codes, thereby drawing distraction through Scottsdale deployments, dodging the ambush of innocents astray, evading the viscount vogue of Viagratic assaults on virtual vaginas, or worse, falling passively into prosaic pastimes. Instead, he would quake the elderly in all corners. POP goes the weasel! Bob’s mallet would speak. He knew his destiny’s turn."

Its like a parody or rip off of the style of the beat generation, particularly Ginsberg and Borroughs, only with no authentic creativity or anything interesting to say.

"Bob finishes his grilled cheese sandwich, last French fry, and final gulp of Pepsi with the bulk of its remaining crushed ice. As he places Pepsi drained genuine Georgia-green Coca-Cola tumbler on counter, the old man takes hold of Bob’s paw with purchase."

Did you get that? Pepsi in a Coca-Cola glass.

At times when Penn isn't too busy stuffing his sentences with pointless alliteration, the story lurches into satire. But the satire is incredibly weak, the Iraq war is barely commented on as being a pay day for corporations, instead Penn is more interested in talking about a band of Papua Guinean cannibal mercenaries, who are a recurring group in the story.

Speaking of cannibals, the story is stuffed with ugliness, there's a Jewish character who speaks in an incredibly strange way with the footnotes helpfully explaining that his dialogue is a form of "Jew talk". And it has incredibly disgusting descriptions of women, and worryingly given Penn's history of domestic abuse graphic fantasies of murdering many of these women.

" You are not simply a president in need of impeachment, you are a man in need of an intervention. We are not simply a people in need of an intervention, we are a nation in need of an assassin. I am God’s squared-away man. I am Bob Honey. That’s who I am. Sir, I challenge you to a duel. Tweet me, bitch. I dare you."

At the end of the book Penn drops most of the twee obtuse stream of consciousness quirkiness to turn Bob into an explicit stand in for Penn's own views. He does this by having his character write out a letter, on a type writer of course. He follows this up with an inner monologue ranting at Conservative strawmen in which his suddenly pro Clinton avatar thinks of all the slurs for ethnic and sexual minorities he can find.

It then ends with a self indulgent recap poem that doesn't really re-cap much of the book, but does take swipes at other targets including the Metoo campaign against sexual harassment, which doesn't do him any favours. 

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