Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
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“There is pride to be had where the prejudicial is practiced with precision in the trenchant triage of tactile terminations.”

No, this is not a tongue twister you’d hear muttered in the wings of a high school stage play. This is, no lie, just one of several deadening excerpts from Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff, the debut novel of actor Sean Penn, who, terrifyingly, seems to be giving up acting in favor of poorly aping Thomas Pynchon and successfully embodying Charles Bukowski.


The 160-page novel tells the story of its namesake character, a septic tank entrepreneur and contract killer who Forrest Gumps his way through Hurricane Katrina, Baghdad at the outset of the Iraq War, and the “penis-edency” of a Donald Trumpian commander in chief. Huffington Post’s Claire Fallon describes it as “an exercise in ass-showing, a 160-page self-own.” Other reviews are kinder, if similarly unimpressed. The New York Times calls it “agonizing” and “conspicuously un-fun,” while Entertainment Weekly criticizes its “woozy gender politics” while dubbing it “shrill,” “confounding,” and “a little hypocritical.”

But one needn’t dig far to discover the dissertation’s most dunk-worthy declarations, which allow for an astonishing abundance of alliterative announcements. Fallon’s collected some examples of her own:

“Bob’s boyhood essence set him up for a separation from time, synergy, and social mores, leading him to acts of indelicacy, wounding words, and woeful whimsy that he himself would come to dread.” ― page 12

“Silly questions of cherries saved served to sever any last impression Bob might have had of Spurley as a serious citizen.” ― page 94

“There is pride to be had where the prejudicial is practiced with precision in the trenchant triage of tactile terminations.” ― page 125

“His dream’s desert daylight diffusion dictated disturbances in the void of visual detail.” ― page 142

And she’s not the only one who noticed.


And then there’s the book’s epilogue, a six-page poem about the #MeToo movement. “Was it really in our interest to trample Charlie Rose?” he asks. Maybe he should ask the 11 women the dude groped against their will?


And we thought he couldn’t sink lower than The Last Face.


Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.

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