[Curious Reads] A Field Guide to Supermarkets in Singapore by Samuel Lee

2 Aug 2017
Article and photo by Grace Phua / @curiousbookreviewer
Edited by Sam Kee

Curiosity level: meow~

Couldn't quite sink my teeth completely into it.

I admit, I chose this book for its cute and intriguing title and the geometric cover design. But I soon found that I couldn't immerse myself in it, as majority of the poems feels as if they didn't evoke enough strong emotions, or fire up more supermarket allusions, or fruity thoughts in me. Although much of what the author has written stems from a deep and interesting understanding of classic literature, mixed with certain philosophies.

11 20170802 curious reads a field guide to supermarkets in singapore by samuel lee

The title of the book is tantalising but it doesn’t quite live up to my expectations. I couldn’t feel the translation of the ‘Singaporean heart’ in the book apart from Rupture of Fruit Through a Plastic Bag

What I enjoyed: The novel idea of the gap-punctuated wordart in First World Grocery Shopping and Learning to Eavesdrop, where Lee writes seemingly random phrases as though the reader were walking along the aisles with him, shopping (for experiences, rather than food).

My favourite of the lot is the eclectic Noah, which is an allegory to the Christians’ purging of the modern shopping world, written in cute satire. I enjoy Lee's creativity that continuously push the envelope of style and his plenty of between-the-lines wit found in the poems. 

"When the barrage burst and sank all the Malls, the first signs of the disaster to surface were the jelly handbags, which bobbed like water hyacinths resting below a cloud of dragonflies." – p.49, Noah

Suitable for: Singaporean poetry enthusiasts, and/or those obsessed with fruits


A Field Guide to Supermarkets in Singapore
Written by: Samuel Lee
Published by: Ten Year Series (an imprint of Math Paper Press) 


Curious Reads is Arts Republic's inaugural collaboration with a book reviewer. In this series, we work with @curiousbookreviewer (Grace Phua) to feature her bite-sized reviews of Singapore Literature.