8 Questions with Samuel Lee

Samuel Lee is the author of A Field Guide To Supermarkets In Singapore.


Which talent would you most like to have?

I’d like to be able to make babies cry and stop crying on command, like those professional baby wranglers in Hollywood: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCuvt8wjKX8. I also wish I could perform somewhat superfluous demonstrations of personal strength and flexibility on demand, such as splits, pistol squats, cartwheels and planches.


What is your most treasured possession?

I’ll have to keep those a secret. But other highlights from my permanent collection include: a cute red and blue bubble pot that looks like a Duplo toy, my late grandmother’s 1952 edition of Ellice Handy’s My Favourite Recipes (stuffed with handwritten notes and laced with grease stains, naturally), a little postcard from the artist Anne Imhof with my name on it, and an autograph by Kuo Pao Kun in a book I got from a former professor of mine.


What is your idea of perfect happiness?

A convivial dinner at home with friends involving trays of kueh pie tee, several bottles of really briny biodynamic wines, and momentous revelations all consumed with great rowdiness, with an optional extension to some rare party acclaimed for playing turn-of-the-millennium hip-hop/R&B in a janky old shophouse that has to constantly fight for the right to exist due to predatory developers that I can’t escape from even in my fantasies.


What is your motto?

We don’t live to work, but sometimes it’s needed for success (I can’t remember the source of this, but it could be from André Leon Talley’s recent memoir). And also, Glamour really has to do with good lighting (Nigella Lawson).


How would you like to die?

Dramatically, like in the final scene of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, when Daisy dies in the hospital while the hurricane sirens wail outside and the flood waters rush into a forgotten storage room, sweeping up all the antiques (flatware, William and Mary style armchairs in walnut, a large enchanted clock, etc.) to spew them out on the street.


If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what would it be?

I wanna return as the oracle at Delphi.


What do you consider the most overrated virtue?



What is your current state of mind?

Hydrated But Still Distressed seems to be the trending emotion of 2020 and I’m not gonna pretend otherwise.