The Mystery Shopping Cart
by Anita Lahey
Palimpest Press, 2013
This book is subtitled
"Essays on Poetry and Culture," which is sort of true, but there is
enough variety in this collection of literary non-fiction to also make
The middle section includes a number of interviews, for
example, one with Alice Munro about on one particular short
The title also comes from a remembrance piece, a eulogy, which is
touching and poignant.
Then at the end of the book is an extended - and
excellent - essay on eulogies.
Which is to say, there is much more than
poetry addressed here, and to sum up the rest as "culture" is
But what a quibble!
Instead let me sum up this book
by praising Anita Lahey for her calm, cool erudition and for sharing her
evident passion for Canadian letters, both recent and in the deeper
past. We get considerations of P.K. Page and Gwendolyn MacEwan. We get
an interview with John Barton and Stephanie Bolster. We get Alice Munro.
And much more.
Poets who kickbox, box and weight lift!
avoids the poetry wars, only saying at one point she like reviewers to
take a stand. Don't be boring! Lahey is not boring, but her tone is
often detached, ruminative. Her deep dive into the eulogy as a form is
no accident. She has a reflective mind and a curious one. The mystery of
the shopping cart is, therefore, an appropriate title image.
an oddness in the every day and Lahey is determined to contemplate it.