From the Stacks: December 22, 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

Congratulations 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 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

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

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