So, sadly, soporifically on. Penn is fixated on matters of populism and authenticity: Among Bob’s chief targets is a society that has been “marketed into madness.” He has an affection for 1960s protest music, quoting liberally from John Lennon’s “Working Class Hero” and a half-dozen songs by downhearted, sarcastic folkie Phil Ochs. Penn has a plain affection for the 1960s counterculture novel, from the let-‘er-rip automatic writing of the Beats to Ken Kesey’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” with its suggestion that an oppressive society will deem any outspoken, decent human being insane. In that light, “Bob Honey” is best appreciated as the fever dream of a boomer who watches the news, cannot make sense of it, but cannot contain his fury at it anyhow. His head is filled with fantasies of an attractive young girlfriend, a gig setting off fireworks for a South American strongman and chaos on the streets during the Republican National Convention.
Review: What is Sean Penn thinking? His debut novel is a mess, again.