Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Literally the Best Reviews: Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff

Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff - Sean Penn
Atria Books
176 Pages

I like Sean Penn. I really do. Anyone my age vividly remembers Jeff Spicoli. “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” was a quintessential coming of age movie for kids of my generation. In fact, as I first sat down to write this review, I borrowed that movie from the library to re-live some of that time period. When I saw that Sean Penn had written a book, I had to read it.

Sometimes, the excitement you feel when you see something that you think would be a great combination delivers less of the thrill and more of the disappointment. That’s exactly what I felt reading Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff by Sean Penn. I wanted to like this book. However, I just couldn’t. It was a struggle to read. It took me five days to read 176 pages. Generally, I read two books in that same period of time.

I’m not sure where to begin with this book. I always try to find at least one thing I like about whatever I read, but this one is going to be tough. The storyline made no sense, had no flow, and was so absurd as to lose any semblance of reality.

Bob Honey is a hired killer. He’s good at his job and he knows it. Somehow, his wife leaving him as derailed him, and a pesky neighbor is far too interested in what he’s doing behind closed doors. Throughout the book, we learn (I think), that he’s outlived his usefulness and his relevance. So he is now on another assassin’s list.

This book bounces all over the place in time and subject and is extraordinarily difficult to follow. It almost becomes a stream of consciousness writing, but it’s done poorly. In most places, it’s nearly impossible to tell what Bob is dreaming or reminiscing about and what is real. There were several times I re-read long passages to hopefully figure out what was going on.

Penn also insults the read with his annoying use of footnotes. Things that are readily apparent are footnoted as to why a city is now called “A” instead of “B.” It makes it seem like Penn believes his readers aren’t smart enough to know what he’s talking about. And it further erodes any limited flow the story may have had.

Honestly, if this didn’t have Sean Penn’s name on the cover, I don’t think this book would have ever been published. Instead of looking for context and literary merit, the publishers looked at what Sean Penn’s name would do for their sales. Meanwhile, there are authors with real talent out there who have been rejected over and over again for stories that are far better stories than what we’re faced with here.

Sean Penn has incredible name recognition. Perhaps instead of putting subpar novels into the marketplace, he could use that power to get actual, struggling authors onto bookshelves around the world. That would be a far better use of his talents.

Craig Bacon always tries to find something positive, but sometimes it can be challenging.