From the Stacks: January 26, 2007

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

In many communities, battles are raging over
affordable housing for low-income families and individuals. The
issues parsed in these debates are complex and diverse, and local
media often don’t shed much light on them. Enter
Shelterforce, the quarterly magazine of
the National Housing Institute (NHI). Though it’s written for
people and organizations working in the field,
Shelterforce provides remarkably accessible explanations
of the economic and social dynamics of affordable housing and
community building. In the Winter 2006 issue, I almost skipped past
the cover story detailing the sale of ‘Manhattan’s last
middle-class enclave,’ assuming that it would be too insider for a
layperson. Happily, I started skimming the piece instead and
quickly found myself absorbed in its discussion of the evolution of
rent laws in New York City. The magazine’s Fall issue reported on
Hurricane Katrina evacuees struggling to find affordable housing in
Texas cities. The NHI also maintains a frequently updated
collection of Katrina-related resources and articles on its
website. — Danielle Maestretti

It’s easy to read
from cover to cover. Take the latest issue, filled
as it is with solid writing on a diversity of topics. Issue #1 of
Vol. 9 opens with a detailed essay on Léon Theremin, inventor of
the eponymous electronic instrument that turns radio waves into
spooky music. The issue also includes a thorough primer on another
spooky topic — presidential signing statements. According to
Philip J. Cooper, the article’s author, the Bush administration has
used these seemingly innocuous documents that accompany
congressional enactments to slip its political and legal intentions
under the radar of critics and opponents. — Evelyn

The best zines are those without rules. Every so often,
Possum Garage Press puts out a tiny, black-and-white
booklet featuring poems and illustrations from lesser-known
artists, and — judging from the batch we were just sent — it’s
always a gamble as to what you’re going to get. Number 4 features
an eight-page prose poem about ‘what happened when it snowed / too
much snow’; #7 opens with a reader’s musings on ‘[a]llowing illegal
immigrants to stay in this country’; and #8 contains a previously
unpublished ‘picture-story’ from 1956 about a downtrodden horse in
the midst of an existential crisis. The drawings are light and
whimsical, with buxom possums gracing the cover, and the issues
often begin with a politically charged editor’s note. To subscribe,
mail $5.00 to P.G.P. c/o Lanyon Studio, 8 Winston Avenue,
Wilmington, DE 19804. — Mary O’Regan

It’s been five years since 20 prisoners first arrived at
Guantánamo Bay Naval Base, and the
AshevilleGlobal Report has been fighting to shut the place down
ever since. The latest issue of this free weekly newspaper from
Asheville, North Carolina, reports on the protests that marked the
glum anniversary, while covering a host of other human rights
injustices worldwide. The Jan. 18-25 edition features the kind of
feisty reporting that earned the newspaper an
Independent Press Award
nomination in 2004. — Bennett

Gabriel García Márquez, the
renowned Colombian novelist, kicks off the latest issue of
Political Affairs, the monthly publication
of the Communist Party, USA. In an ode that originally appeared in
the Cuban newspaper Granma, Márquez writes of ‘The Fidel
Castro That I Know,’ subtly explaining the leader’s longevity and
the controversy that constantly surrounds him. The February issue
also covers the connection between poverty and AIDS, and celebrates
the recent Wal-Mart union organizing successes in China. —
Bennett Gordon

In-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.