Emily Colkitt's Reviews > Supermarket

Supermarket by Bobby Hall
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did not like it
bookshelves: reading-list-2019

So this is how it feels to take a man’s life. Forced to kill for one’s own survival.

I looked down at the puddle of blood by my feet, locking eyes with my own reflection. Fluorescent lights flickered overhead. How’d I get here? I was just a dude who worked at the grocery store.

Now here I was, standing over a man I murdered.

So begins the debut novel of Bobby Hall, a Maryland native who dropped out of high school, escaped the slums, and went on to achieve world-wide success as rap artist Logic. He also answers to Bobby Tarantino, Young Sinatra, and the 1-800 Guy (jkjk).

For transparency's sake, you should know that Logic has been one of my favorite rappers for years, and I've been anticipating the release of Supermarket ever since he first began hinting at a novel in 2017. I wanted so badly for Supermarket to be as brilliant as Under Pressure and as recklessly fun as Bobby Tarantino II. Regardless of my affinity for Logic, however, I want to approach this review as objectively as possible. Too many die-hard fans are determined to adore whatever an artist releases without question or critical thought, and I think that's unfair to the artist. I respect Mr. Hall enough to treat Supermarket with the honesty that any new writer should be given. Leading someone on is no way to show your support. So, here goes.

The back cover describes Supermarket as a "darkly funny psychological thriller," but it's really more of a psychological comedy than anything. The book follows the life of Flynnagin E. Montgomery, aka Flynn, a 20-something-year-old, recently-dumped, aspiring writer with some serious mental health issues. In order to kickstart his writing career and make some steady money, he takes a job at a local supermarket, where he falls in love with a cute coworker named Mia, befriends Tyler Durden 2.0, and rapidly loses his grip on reality.

If reading the opening quote gave you a sense of foreboding, you're not alone. As badly as I wanted to love Supermarket, the distractingly primitive writing made for a conflicting experience straight out of the gate. That opener actually encapsulates many of the problems that pepper the rest of the novel. For one, it's cliche'd as all get out. The second sentence is incomplete. The tone is jarringly informal ("how'd," "dude"). The tenses are inconsistent ("Now here I was"). Not to mention, can you really see your own reflection in a puddle of blood?

Honestly, the book felt like it was written by a crude-mouthed high-schooler. There's far too many commas and sentence fragments for a smooth flow. The prose is riddled with cliches and attempts at being cutesy. The characters use each others' names every other sentence.  There are hahaha's, ummm's, nah's, etc., as if the exchanges are text conversations rather than dialogue. The amount of ALL-CAPS, exclamation marks!!, reaaaallyyyy drawn out worrrrrds, and other flamboyancies make the prose downright exhausting on the eyes. One Amazon reviewer writes, "I was really blown away with how well written it is," and I'm sorry, but reviews like these are objectively wrong. A brief but representative example:

“Mia, let’s get out of here, the store’s about to close,” I said.
“Chill, Flynn, we work here, and I need to find the perfect pomegranate,” she said.
“Mia, let’s go, I’m hungry,” I said, pulling her forward with my arm.
“Flynn, Jesus, okay.”

And one more for good measure:

“Do you listen to Tame Impala?” she asked.
“No, never heard of them,”I said, shaking my head.
“You’re kidding me!! You haven’t listened to Currents?!?” she yelled.
“Haha, nah, I haven’t. Is it any good?”
She stared blankly at me.
“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.”
“Oh, I love that place!”

Unfortunately, overlooking the prose to the actual meat of the story proves equally grim. The plot starts off with a decent push but rapidly loses momentum, petering off into fragmented episodes interrupted by frequent internal monologues. The twists are so heavily foreshadowed that it feels like the author is ribbing you every chapter and whispering, "Get it? Huh? Do you see it yet? See what I did there?" The "big reveal" was so obvious from the outset that Hall had me convinced I was missing something. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, but it never did.

There is very little in Supermarket that hasn't been done before. I've seen reviews comparing it to Fight Club, Naked Lunch, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, which is unsurprising but also unfair, because Hall simply borrows content from them without adding anything new to the mix. I wasn't kidding about Tyler Durden 2.0 — the Frank character literally is Tyler from Fight Club. And the parts of the book that aren't borrowed from other writers are taken straight out of the author's own life. For instance, the description of Flynn's coworker girlfriend, Mia, made my heart ache. Because whether he realizes it or not, Hall is clearly describing his ex-wife, Jess Andrea:

She was an absolute beauty! A twenty-five-year-old, Spanish-speaking, tan-skinned, 5'6" supermarket model with jet-black hair; an amazing body; a warm, welcoming energy; and a radiating smile. She was the only thing in the entire store that felt real. She was a combination of Jessica Alba and Rashida Jones. Random mixture, I know, but damn, was she gorgeous.

The only truly redeeming quality to be found in Supermarket is Hall's depiction of depression and anxiety, and how the two combined can hold a person hostage in their own mind. Obviously the author has fought his own battle with mental health, which makes the passages describing Flynn's struggles the most vivid and powerful. For example, describing a time in Flynn's life when he could barely leave his bed:

I felt hopeless. Not even sad. Just nothing. I couldn’t even cry. The thought of writing was an unimaginable feat. It was a depression so low and flat that I couldn’t even envision suicide as a solution.

Another passage describes the physical experience of an anxiety attack with disconcerting accuracy:

At that moment, everything around me began to flicker, as though the lights were being sucked from the room, then instantaneously brought back.  My hearing became muffled, then ceased altogether. A high-frequency pitch shot into my head, like in those old war movies when a soldier experiences shell shock. Everything seemed to be moving in slow motion and yet superfast at the same time.

Flynn is stuck in a loop, like a hamster in a wheel. He's trapped in the supermarket. For anyone else who feels trapped and helpless, unable to see beyond their current circumstances, a slave to their own mind, there is an empowering message hidden within Supermarket. Beneath the juvenile prose, flamboyant characters, and uninspired plot lies a message about the power of the mind and the importance of mental health. It is possible to break free. As Hall writes in the acknowledgements:

I have used words and creative freedom to better myself. Whoever may be reading these words, I hope you have the courage to do the same through any form of creative expression. It has been a long road, but I too, finally, have escaped the supermarket.

It's hard to stomp on a book too much when it was written with such whole-hearted motivation and positivity. I admire Hall for the courage and vulnerability it took for him to step outside of his rap niche and dabble in a new medium in order to further spread his message of peace, love, and positivity. It must have been terrifying. That said, artistically, Supermarket is a flop. There's no getting around it. And if you insist that it isn't, maybe you should try taking off those glasses as thick and rosy as the book's cover.
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Reading Progress

January 12, 2019 – Shelved
January 12, 2019 – Shelved as: to-read
March 26, 2019 – Started Reading
March 26, 2019 – Shelved as: reading-list-2019
March 27, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-26 of 26 (26 new)

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E.E. O'Brien I completely agree with this review, and I'm a HUGE Logic fan, but an even bigger Book fan. Amazing review, had everything I wanted to say about it but couldn't find the words to

Emily Colkitt Thanks for the feedback! Yeah, this was a rough one to write because I got nothin but love for Logic.

Rebecca Norman I listened to the audiobook and it made it better. I didn’t follow along in the actual book and I’m glad I didn’t. The errors and commas would hurt my eyes lol. Good review! I love logic too!

Emily Colkitt Ah, audiobook must have been so much easier. I’m glad you were able to enjoy it! I heard he’s working on getting it made into a movie, and honestly I think the story had a lot more potential as a screenplay, so I’m optimistic for him. Thanks for the comment, Rebecca!

Alaina Trofler Thank you for saying what needed to be said! The writing truly is primitive and very informal, making it so hard to read seriously. I thought the plot was decently well done but I also agree with you about the heavy foreshadowing. If it was better written it would have been profoundly more enjoyable. :)

Breanna Perfectly said. Couldn’t agree more.

Corey Thibodeaux I agree with your sentiment - it's hard to judge art when it comes from a good place. But when it's produced for the masses, art has a cause-and-effect relationship with those who consume it. He does much better with the same topic in his music, so this seemed more of a pet project, half honoring his love of certain authors and pop-culture references, and semi-autobiographical. Perhaps it would have been better as a full autobiography.

I chuckled at when I saw "Tyler Durden 2.0." So true.

message 8: by Bri (new) - rated it 1 star

Bri This review is spot on. A book I wanted to like but the “twists” were so obvious that it was painful. The clues were thrown in your face and repeated so many times that I thought they were too obvious and I was missing something else. The conversations between characters was almost laughable at times. To me, this book felt like it was written by a high school student. Overall, just terrible.

message 9: by Joni (new)

Joni Took the words right out of my mouth, only you said it better. I really wish I read your review before I bought the book!

message 10: by Fred (new) - rated it 1 star

Fred Nolan I agree with every word.

I bought Supermarket (in a supermarket) while preparing for a week-long business trip. I'd never heard of it and Ernest Cline's review is what convinced me. I'll copy it here in full: “Bobby Hall has crafted a mind-bending first novel, with prose that is just as fierce and moving as his lyrics. Supermarket is like Naked Lunch meets One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest—if they met at Fight Club.”

I would challenge Cline to defend any of this, much less all of it. I'm guessing he didn't finish the book.

I'd never heard of Logic before reading, and I respect you for such brutal honesty about a celebrity you admire.

Bailee Agree 100%

message 12: by Tessy (new) - rated it 1 star

Tessy Consentino Thank you!! It’s so bad. All his descriptions of people are just...hard to describe...really cliched.

message 13: by Jamad (new)

Jamad Thanks for the review and the extracts. It is definitely not for me

Aldrin As a longtime Logic fan I completely agree with your review! Terribly written and the storytelling is so obvious and blunt that I'd be surprised if anyone was shocked by the "revelations" in this book. The influences are worn on it's sleeve from Tarantino to Christopher Nolan to Stephen King etc. The most I can say for the book is it was an easy read and kept me turning the page. I'd really only recommend this book for Logic fans who are curious about seeing him tackle a new artistic medium.

Hannah Fantastic review. I have to completely agree, being a fan of Logic, I had higher hopes for this debut. The most well-writen and moving part of the entire thing was the acknowledgements .
I applaud art in all forms, especially when targeted to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. This book gives you a tiny glimpse into a mind that struggles to stay focused on anything. I think Mr. Hall wanted to let us into his head. With the fragmented sentences, rapid jumps, ranting strains of consciousness and yet relatedable to his largest fan base (hence why most of it is written like a one sided dialogue with the reader). He wanted to be an author and so he is now an author. Check. Next.

message 16: by Sophia (new)

Sophia I've only read the first 20 pages and I know all this is true.

message 17: by Luke (new) - rated it 4 stars


It’s written poorly ‘on purpose’ because it’s writtten by a schizophrenic man.

message 18: by Emily (last edited Sep 20, 2019 03:10AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Emily Colkitt Luke wrote: "*HUGE SPOILERS FOR THE ENTIRE BOOK*

It’s written poorly ‘on purpose’ because it’s writtten by a schizophrenic man."

Hi, Luke. Interesting take, but I think that the juvenile quality of the writing has much more to do with Mr. Hall's lack of experience as a writer than it does with Flynn's mental state. Schizophrenia might potentially account for some of the quirks in the narrative voice (such as the frequent use of all-caps, exclamation marks, etc.), but I don't think it can be stretched to account for the numerous other gaping problems with the book itself, such as the lack of structure, the endless cliches, the over-reliance on crude vocabulary, the plot holes, the obvious twists, and all-around lack of originality.

An author has to take responsibility for his work, the good and the bad; blaming his characters for every mistake would be exploitative and, frankly, cruel.

Keaton Currently listening to the audiobook, 3/4 done, and the blatant Tyler Durden rip was what really took me from “yeah this is pretty bad” to “OOF” haha

zvoniimiir I completely agree with everything you said.

message 21: by Maxwell (new)

Maxwell Bless you for your service, soldier.

Terrell Would have to agree with the part about Mia as it relates to his personal life/relationships especially, seems to go way out of his way to describe her without any flaws in a way that points to almost objectifying something he is missing, or assuming is realistic in the real world to find.

Was willing to give it a chance after the small twist at the halfway point but he didn't do much very original with it.

Caitlin 🐈 See I totally see where you’re coming from but I think that’s the point of the writing style. You don’t like it because the way that person talks in their head isn’t something you like or talk like. I liked the improperness of it because the main character is relatable in many ways coming from seeing my schizophrenic mother write and do what she does. It’s wild to see into the mind of the person. The lingo even matched up with how she talked a lot. I found it refreshing so far from the first part, but it took me a minute to remove my bias to how books should be written in my opinion because it is a different style than the norm. The offbeat is what makes it kind of noteworthy tbh

message 24: by Indhu (new)

Indhu Rammohan Okay so I’m 11 pages in and honestly shocked at how poorly written this novel is. How did an editor accept this? Anyway came here to see if it gets better but apparently not, thanks for the review!

Olivia Thibodeaux I have to disagree. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I feel like it was written in this style on purpose to portray a point and purpose. I loved this book. I’ve never heard of Logic before reading the book so there’s no bias from me here. I think many people would enjoy this book as well.

Ashlee Camehl I appreciate your review because these are all my exact feelings. One of the largest issues for me: the terribly sexist characterizations of women. I started dog-earing pages every time I reached a cringy or sexist description, and the sheer number of them is really disappointing.

How are we supposed to believe that a woman who watched a man fight himself not once but TWICE, the second time nearly to death, stay with him?

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