Friday, February 13, 2015

Anita Lahey

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 it untrue. 

The middle section includes a number of interviews, for example, one with Alice Munro about on one particular short story. 

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 misleading.

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!

Lahey 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. 

There is an oddness in the every day and Lahey is determined to contemplate it.

No comments: