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The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North…

The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field…

by Julian Montague

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This is one of those books shelved in the humor section only because most bookstores don't have a WTF section. It is, in short, exactly what the title suggests: a study of shopping carts that have escaped their shops and parking lots. The subject matter is taken so seriously and each cart categorized so meticulously that it's difficult to accept that this is all truly meant as a joke. I read the entire thing, though, and actually quite enjoyed the photography. There's a certain beauty to the urban decay represented here. My favorite category, of which there was far too little, was "complex vandalism" - and more specifically, the cart somehow launched atop a street sign. I don't know that I would necessarily recommend this book to anyone, but I suppose there is a certain sort of person whose book collection would be incomplete without it. Find them, and give them this book. ( )
  melydia | Oct 5, 2012 |
Until now, the major obstacle that has prevented people from thinking critically about stray shopping carts has been that we have not had any formalized language to differentiate one shopping cart from another.

This parody of field guides establishes a taxonomy based not on shopping-cart characteristics but on the characteristics of where they’re found and their condition and use. It defines two classes -- False Strays (carts that have been temporarily repurposed near their store or have strayed but will be rounded up and returned to the store) and True Strays (carts that won’t be returned to their store) -- and then 33 subtypes including variously damaged, vandalized, naturalized (e.g. into bodies of water), repurposed (i.e. stolen for personal or business use), and my favorite, “structurally modified” (see some photos on my reading thread).

There are hundreds of color-photo field examples, each exhaustively categorized, and then a section on the Niagara Falls River Gorge, “a complex vandalism super site.” An appendix describes related phenomena: stray plastic bags, car tires and traffic cones.

It’s an extremely well-developed parody, insightful even, and deeply humorous. ( )
2 vote DetailMuse | Sep 28, 2012 |
To make things clear from the start: I'm a dork.

The book appealed to such a high level of dorkiness that I couldn't help but love it. The title is exactly what you get - a detailed, full-color book showing the placement and condition of various shopping carts with a detailed taxonomy of class and type. It is 176-pages featuring over 250 pictures of shopping carts in various states of disrepair, imprisonment, and modified use. Most of the images are from around the Buffalo, New York area; being from a warmer climate, I had no idea that snow plows could destroy carts in such a way. Since the book is mostly pictures, there is little to read but the captions are very informative. For example, from page 142:

This B/3 FRAGMENT, B/12 SIMPLE VANDALISM, B/14 ARCHAIC specimen was found in a creek that runs through an urban area. At the time of documentation, the SOURCE of origin had been closed for five years.

Yes, all shopping carts are specimens, and their stores of origin are the source. The delightful thing about this book is that it is dead serious. You could go anywhere in the country - or indeed the world - and use Julian Montague's system to identify the location and condition of carts.

There is an especially interesting section in the back devoted to the unique vandalism in the Niagara Falls River Gorge, complete with a map featuring zones of carts shoved off the cliff and the varying condition and age of the carts within each zone.

I highly recommend this field identification guide to all fellow dorks who are amused and intrigued by wandering shopping carts. It's a true classic. ( )
2 vote ladycato | Feb 4, 2009 |
After reading this well thought out field guide you will have a new appreciation for the occasional stray cart you pass. Is it a Class A False or a Class B True? You will run through the requirements for each in your mind and on your own begin classification of your find. After reading this guide you will even then be able to correctly determine sub classification.

While I live in the 'Eastern North America' cited in this guide I am still eagerly awaiting further geographical sites to be expounded upon in future guides.

I thank the author for taking up this mostly thankless task. ( )
  Mendoza | Aug 6, 2007 |
Seriously, this will change your perception of shopping carts. After reading this, you'll have a weird sense of personification for shopping carts. How did they get there? What's going to happen to them? It doesn't happen until you actually experience your first stray shopping cart. You see it there, but you don't pay any attention to it. Then suddenly you find one at a gas station, and wonder, "Is that a True Stray?" Will it be ultimately be a victim of simple vandalism? Or will an agent from the Source rescue it?
Seriously, this will change your view of shopping carts. ( )
  orin | Jul 21, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0810955202, Hardcover)

A must-have for anyone with a passion for shopping carts and a love of the great outdoors.

In The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America author Julian Montague has created an elaborate classification system of abandoned shopping carts, accompanied by photographic documentation of actual stray cart sightings. These sightings include bucolically littered locations such as the Niagara River Gorge (where many a cart has been pushed to its untimely death) and mundane settings that look suspiciously like a suburb near you.

Working in the naturalist's tradition, the photographs depict the diversity of the phenomenon and carry a surprising emotional charge; readers inevitably begin to see these carts as human, at times poignant in their abandoned, decrepit state, hilariously incapacitated, or ingeniously co-opted. The result is at once rigorous and absurd, enabling the layperson to identify and classify their own cart spottings based on the situation in which they were found.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:04:05 -0400)

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