Supermarket By Bobby Hall
Published Apr 18, 2019Logic's pen game is only one of the facets that make him one of the most popular rappers working today, but by his own admission, his interest in reading was lacking compared to writing and rhyming.
In an acknowledgements section of his debut novel, Supermarket, authored as Bobby Hall, he recounts how he was motivated to write the book "after a week of binge-reading novels for the first time in my life in my mid-20s." This earnestness undoubtedly contributed to Supermarket landing top spot on the New York Times' bestseller list upon its release, but the admission is also enough to explain the pedestrian feel of Hall's first published work.
Supermarket follows 24-year-old Flynn, an aspiring writer still living at home in Baker City, Oregon, who is having his fair share of mental health struggles in the wake of a breakup. In need of a steady paycheque, he applies for a job at his town's local supermarket, and is hired on the spot.
Outside of his day job, Flynn is penning a novel based on his day-to-day surroundings, frequently jotting notes in a Moleskine about his crew of coworkers. The further he gets in his process, the more he struggles to keep a handle on both the real world and the one he writes about.
Ernest Cline, Hall's favourite living author, describes Supermarket in his back cover praise "like Naked Lunch meets One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest — if they met at Fight Club." Hall's book wears these influences a little too well, to the point of having plot points and details similar to those aforementioned titles. In what could be purely coincidence, a minor character is even named "Ed Nortan."
Albums like The Incredible True Story and Everybody demonstrated Logic's ability to create characters and build a conceptual narrative, but as a novice novelist, his prose falls short of his flows here. Main characters rarely branch out beyond typical YA archetypes, if at all, and dialogue is consistently treated with more all-caps, ellipses and embellishment ("Soooooooo," "Oookkaaayyyyy theennn") than any of it truly demands.
Flynn even jots out his own character traits in an early moment of breaking the fourth wall, ticking the boxes, "kind of funny, good with women, smart-ass, normal dude in 20s." Love interest Mia isn't developed beyond being just that, described as "a combination of Jessica Alba and Rashida Jones" who is either madly in love with Flynn or upset with him.
Elsewhere, in spite of apparent foreshadowing and some repetitive plot elements, the tale's grandest twist is still spelled out quite plainly come the close. Pop culture references made by the characters in the name of personality include Mac DeMarco's Salad Days, Tame Impala's Currents, Macallan scotch, Dan Bejar's Destroyer and Fenty cosmetics.
Three-quarters of a page are dedicated to a cringe-inducing recollection of the main characters hooking up to Toro Y Moi, cut short just enough for this to remain a YA title. Hall's legions of fans will surely rush to devour their favourite's latest creative project, but those who aren't card-carrying Rattpack devotees will come away with little to chew on. (Simon & Schuster)