Sean Penn has worked in many creative formats. He is well known as an actor, director, the former husband of the phenomenon that is Madonna, and now he has demonstrated that his creativity extends to the written word. Penn’s first novel is called Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff and the work is winning accolades from sources ranging from Sarah Silverman to Salman Rushdie. The book takes a look at the issues of our time, from a president called “Mr. Landlord” to the #metoo movement. In his first novel, Penn seeks to express his political engagement through his protagonist’s antics and adventures.
At the age of fifty-seven, when many creative types are content to rest on past successes and to reprise the triumphs of earlier times, Penn is forging new ground with his writing. As he told Rolling Stone magazine, “What surprised me was why I hadn’t done it sooner.” Talking with Marc Maron of the WTF with Marc Maron Podcast, Penn discusses his attraction to and reasons for delving into the world of literature. “It’s more of a conversation about where I feel I can be productive,” he says, claiming that he’s ready to embrace the solitary literary lifestyle and commitment that writing entails.
Penn explains that he fell in love with acting in the 70s. However, he has recently become tired of how the film industry has become more commercial. He is also tired of how the movie industry influences individuals’ views of society, and how the current state of media and film has “image builders” at the forefront of the scene. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that Penn would create a novel that “gleefully skewers our culture’s worship of the notion of branding,” which is an assessment from Vogue magazine regarding Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff. “Let’s just say I’ve got somethin’ cookin’,” Penn said, when Vogue inquired about a sequel. With his hints about another novel in the pipeline, Penn seems committed to the writing lifestyle. As he told Maron, “I’m ready for the writer’s life with my golden retriever sitting there.”