Bobby Hall, best known in the music world as the platinum-selling recording artist Logic, has made a habit of shocking the world with his talent and ambition. A high school dropout raised in a home crippled with substance addiction, many would have predicted that Hall’s inauspicious circumstances early on would sever him from any possibility of success.
Rising against all odds through key mentorships and pure motivation, Hall has written pervasive lyrics stemming from his humble beginnings to his ascent, connecting with a loyal and ever-growing fan base. Given this bit of history, it should be no surprise that Hall has surprised us yet again. This Grammy-nominated artist recently switched tracks from writing songs to penning a novel, the gritty and consuming psychological thriller Supermarket (Simon and Schuster).
The beginning of the story is brimming with chaotic charge. We find the protagonist Flynn standing over a dying man, knowing that he is responsible for his condition. We know very little else about either character. Flynn reveals that he used to be your typical guy, working at a supermarket before this violent turn of events. We only can define the man lying in a disreputable heap on the ground by Flynn’s contempt for him, without an explanation for these feelings.
The only additional piece of information we receive is that both men can agree that a woman named Lola was the source of their trouble. From there we flash back in time to meet the infamous Lola and embark on a mind-boggling trip to find the truth.
In a small town in Oregon, Flynn is struggling to make his ambitions a reality. More than anything, he wants to be a writer but can never seem to finish a novel. Unwittingly, he makes his novel his highest priority in life and in doing so shuts out others like his girlfriend Lola in the process. Feeling cheated by Flynn for living in the shadow of a book he does not have the commitment to finish, she breaks up with him.
Losing Lola puts things into perspective. After months of depression doggedly pitching his unfinished manuscript to one uninterested publishing company after another, he finds one interested publisher that sees promise in his work and gives him an advance on the promise that Flynn can meet his deadline in finishing the book.
To do research for his novel, he takes a job at a Muldoon’s supermarket, planning to produce an edgy piece of realism. Flynn’s determined to make something of himself and feels a tremendous pressure to succeed. To prove Lola wrong. To prove to his mother that he can be independent. To prove to the schizophrenic father he never knew that his son could be capable of something. And most of all, to prove to himself he could finish the damn book.
Working at the supermarket, Flynn finds inspiration for the book’s characters in his co-workers. Most importantly, he plans to base his protagonist on Frank, a man who has no filter and little respect for anyone around him. Frank smuggles cash from the cash registers, lies about having sex with every young girl who works there and secretly keeps a gun in his locker under the guise that he has to protect the store from a shooter if one shows up.
He even explains to Flynn exactly how he would rob Muldoon’s if he wanted to, finally giving our writer the grand climax to his book he’s been searching for. Frank seems highly unbalanced, and yet Flynn does partially admire him for saying exactly what he means all the time. He admits that “maybe he filled out a part of me I wish I had more of. The irreverent, unabashed anti-authoritarian. ” In the first part of the book, Flynn’s relationship with Frank is complicated. The two spend a huge amount of time together, but it seems like the only reason Flynn sticks around Frank is to record his character accurately in his book.
Flynn’s job at the supermarket isn’t all work though. He also finds a new romantic opportunity in one of the employees in the baking section, Mia. She’s smart, driven and cares deeply for Flynn. The only problem is Flynn sometimes feels guilty for spending time with her instead of writing. But whereas Frank is a mostly negative yet creatively productive influence in his life, Mia is an emotionally beneficial distraction. She even supports Flynn through his anxiety and panic attacks as he finally seeks professional help.
However, everything changes once word gets around that Flynn’s been cheating on Mia with another supermarket employee, Rachel. Flynn swears Frank is the only one involved with Rachel, but Mia loses her trust in him.
Professionally, as things seem to be shaping up for Flynn completing the climax of the story, his personal life cracks into even deeper fractures. When Flynn reports to his shift after completing his novel, he finds the grocery store robbed and vandalized. Incriminating footage on a security camera points to not Frank but Flynn. Everything you know about the two shifts in the second part of the story with a huge revelation.
This novel covers a lot of ground. Hall breaks down heavy topics such as depression, anxiety and mental health in less intimidating ways that people will be able to connect with, just as seamlessly as his meaningful lyrics. To write a thriller leaving the reader guessing what’s real until finally relenting the truth is another skill entirely. This novel may have been Hall’s first, but I’m sure there will be plenty more.
Supermarket is now available for purchase.
ABOUT BOBBY HALL:
Bobby Hall, a.k.a. Logic, the Grammy-nominated, platinum-selling recording artist, quickly established himself as one of the most original young stars in music. Through a streak of hit records, Bobby Hall has cemented his status as one of the greatest MCs at work, being hailed for his lyricism, cinematic storytelling, and inspiring message of peace, love, and positivity. His music touches on societal issues that affect us all, including anxiety, depression, and race. Supermarket is his debut novel.
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