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Supermarket (2019)
Book Reviews

Supermarket (2019)

Bobby Hall/Logic’s literary debut never attempts to dig below the surface of the ideas it’s clearly stealing from.

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Supermarket, the highly-anticipated debut novel of Grammy-nominated rapper Bobby Hall aka Logic, follows 24 year-old Flynn, a recently dumped, depressed aspiring writer who never seems to get anywhere because he never finishes anything. But for the first time in his life, he’s been given the golden opportunity all writers dream of: a chance to prove themselves by writing the best novel they can.

But can he? Flynn decides to write about realism in the mundane activities and lives of people who work in a local supermarket. Only the twist is that Flynn ends up murdering someone in the first few pages (so it’s not exactly a spoiler). Sounds pretty good, right? That’s what I first thought as well…until I actually read those first few pages.

Personally, I’ve heard of rapper/producer Logic but have never listened to any of his music. He was so inspired to write this story, I’ve read, that he created a companion soundtrack to the book and released it on YouTube for free. As generous as this sounds, the overall effect is like spraying perfume as you’re walking through the local dump.

I found this story extremely hard to read. Not because I didn’t understand the storyline or the foreshadowing or anything, but because the actual writing was bad. Capital B-A-D bad. It lacks elegance, not only in execution (there were times when it read like a long text message), but mostly because the characters are all one note. They are two dimensional without any depth that Hall’s ‘realism’ should have added.

There were times when Hall breaks the fourth wall, as if he’s being cheeky and about to take us on an exciting journey. I kept hoping and praying he would. But in the end, he wasn’t able to. It appeared to flip between a person on medication and someone who wasn’t. So much of the storyline was directly stolen from Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club, it’s not even funny. The person Flynn kept ‘seeing’ was Frank, who was a carbon copy of Tyler Durden. He’s brash, a ladies’ man, has a bad attitude, but was surprisingly knowledgeable about bananas and the brain.

The foreshadowing was so obvious a toddler would have picked up on it. The characters in the book, especially Flynn, put me on edge the more I read. There were moments I wanted to give up completely because dialogue was written almost as if Hall had never engaged in a conversation with anyone outside of his inner circle. Everything was one note and one-dimensional in every sense of the word. And the amount of exclamation points and ALL CAPS writing made everything come off like a comment section on a terrible blog. It was painful to endure.

Think I’m exaggerating? Here’s an example of the dialogue: “Is it any good? ‘Is it ANY GOOD?’ HE SAYS! It’s amazing, Flynn. A true modern classic! I’ll have to grab you a copy from the Vinyl Village.” or “You’re kidding me!! You haven’t listened to Currents?!?” she yelled. Or this little gem: “WHAT?!” I said. “You really do have a gun in your locker?! What’s wrong with you?”

The combination of the question-plus-exclamation marks were peppered throughout like it was one long text message alongside drawn out words such as: WHHHHAAAAATTTTTT? This pointed to an amateurish way of writing, reminding me of stories I wrote in elementary school.

The one shining part in this veritable mess was Hall’s description of anxiety and depression, which was surprisingly accurate in every aspect. After looking into Hall’s background, I could see why: he was speaking from personal experience. He had been through a rough period himself and it showed in that part of the writing. Every time Flynn’s anxiety or depression came up, I had little pockets of hope of how the book could have turned out if only someone had sat down with Hall and explained how writing a book actually works.

I initially had high hopes for Supermarket based on the description but perhaps that was my mistake from the beginning. Hall explains he’s personally not much of a reader, which is almost a requisite to become a writer, and this inexperience shows in his debut. He draws from personal experience, which could have made a compelling narrative, but this alone isn’t the same as understanding basic story structure or how to execute these ideas. Hall’s work centers mostly around Hollywood-style scripts, which explains his writing style. Unfortunately, none of this translates well to the written word. If you’re a fan of Hall/Logic’s work, you might enjoy this book. It’s a quick read that never attempts to dig below the surface. Life did not imitate art in this case.

About the Author: Evelyn Wong