From the Stacks: December 22, 2006

| December 2006

Utne Reader's library is abuzz with a steady flow of 1,500 magazines, newsletters, journals, weeklies, zines, and other lively dispatches from the cultural front that are rarely found at big-box bookstores, newsstands, or even online. So we share the highlights (and occasional lowlights) of what's landing in our library each week in 'From the Stacks.' Check in every Friday for the latest edition.

Exceptional FamilyCongratulations are in order for Exceptional Family. This Canadian magazine for parents of children with disabilities recently celebrated its first anniversary -- a major milestone for a new publication. With a scope stretching beyond Canada, this magazine would serve as a useful resource for anyone who works with children -- educators, childcare providers, and others. Exceptional Family reports on innovative treatments and programs, like equine therapy for a range of children with disabilities (Summer 2006) and pottery classes for children with visual impairments (Fall 2006). The 'Adapted Travel' column, which advises parents about accessible activities in cities like New York and Toronto, is a helpful traveling tool. -- Danielle Maestretti

Taddle Creek

Taddle Creek started as an annual neighborhood Christmas journal in 1997, but has since morphed into a semi-annual literary magazine. The bulk of the publication presents fiction and poetry from folks in Toronto, though geographic exceptions are possible. Regular works also include profiles, illustrated fiction, and historical essays pertaining to something or someone of note in Toronto's evolution. The Christmas 2006 issue pays tribute to Canada's forgotten cartoonist, Lou Skuce, who illustrated biographies of wrestlers. And grammar dorks interested in the definition of biannual versus semi-annual can peruse the editor's note, which you will find under the department heading 'Bunk.' If you can't wait until June for more of this off-beat publication, hit up the last page for a list of recommended books recently published by Taddle Creek contributors. -- Elizabeth Ryan

Cracks in the Concrete is arguably the most agreeable anarchist zine to find its way into the Utne Reader's library. Though its pages hold the requisite criticisms of government, organized religion, and the status quo, editor Luke Romano makes a concerted effort to focus on what anarchists work toward -- liberty, equality, kindness, and peace. Take, for example, Romano's proposal in the December issue for 'Personal Anarchism,' that makes anarchistic theoretical ideals accessible for most readers. The essay is an 'acknowledgment that anarchism is indeed a part of everyday a [sic] life in THIS society…the spirit of cooperation dominating the lust of greed.' -- Suzanne Lindgren


XLR8R bills itself as 'accelerating music and culture.' And its makers really are down in the underground, digging up what's good and undiscovered, and getting the word out. While the tone can sometimes drift into hipper-than-thou territory, for the most part, the magazine's writers seem genuinely stoked about sharing their subject matter with an audience. The glossy is based in San Francisco, but keeps a national – even international – perspective, so readers won't feel like the creators have Cali-induced myopia. The December issue is packed with the bests and worsts of 2006, from artists (visual and musical) to record labels and style trends, alongside more music reviews than you could shake a stick at. -- Suzanne Lindgren

Be careful with Miranda; this unassuming zine is addictive. Published every six months by Portland-based mama Kate Haas, the zine contains candid essays on parenthood, tales of Haas' experiences in Morocco as a Peace Corps volunteer, talk about books, and quick recipes. Unlike a few culprits in the growing mom-zine genre, Miranda doesn't harbor gushy or whiney writing and doesn't feel like something just for parents. Instead, it seems to lace the perfect amount of sass and intelligent wit throughout its pages. Topics in issue #15 include Haas' husband's vasectomy, her thoughts on being a pro-choice mother, and her alternative universe. The issue also includes a collection of entertaining life snippets called 'Mama's Stray Thoughts' -- which reads like the maternal version of deep thoughts. Good news: Now that her son is starting preschool, Haas reports that she may find time to publish Miranda more frequently. -- Jenna Fisher