From the Stacks: January 5, 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
edition.

A strange puppet show debuted in our office this
week, thanks to the arrival of four friendly monsters made of small
brown paper bags and glued-on body (or robot) parts. These jolly
characters, one of whom appears at left, accompanied Paper
Kitty
, an enchanting zine that hosts a diverse troupe of
illustrated personalities. Drawings are lovingly rendered
throughout, and the zine’s creator clearly relishes small details,
even when they’re peripheral to the story (as when three tiny mice
share a thought bubble containing a wedge of Swiss cheese). There’s
plenty of room for writing as well, including a nice story about
the author’s visit to her elderly neighbor’s house. Paper
Kitty
manages to seamlessly integrate text and illustrations
— something many zines seem to struggle with — and remains
remarkably uncrowded. — Danielle Maestretti

Think
Spanish
informs and entertains aspiring Spanish speakers
without the frustrating task of repeatedly flipping through a
dictionary. The monthly magazine is written in Spanish for
non-native speakers, with difficult vocabulary bolded and defined
at the side of the page. Though there are grammar exercises in the
back, Think Spanish doesn’t read like a workbook. The
January? issue contains articles on Argentine literary titan Jorge
Luis Borges, eco-villages in Latin America, and the Fiesta de San
Antonio in Spain. The magazine is one of several foreign-language
titles put out by Second Language Publishing. — Bennett
Gordon

Inspired by Think Spanish, we offer From the Stacks’
first venture into bilingual territory:
Piensa en
Espa?ol
informa y divierte personas que quieren aprender
espa?ol, sin la necesidad de un diccionario. La revista mensual es
escrito en espa?ol para personas que no nacieron hablando espa?ol,
con vocabulario oscurito y definido al lado de la pagina. Aunque
hay ejercicios gram?ticos en la parte de atr?s de la revista,
Piensa en Espa?ol no lea como un libro de la escuela. La
edici?n de enero contiene art?culos sobre el tit?n literario de
Argentina Jorge Lu?s Borges,? eco aldeas en Am?rica Latina, y la
fiesta de San Antonio en Espa?a. La revista es uno de varios
t?tulos de idiomas extranjeros publicado por
Second Language
Publishing
. — Bennett Gordon

For those unfamiliar with the zoobombing craze, the
latest issue of Vancouver-based
Momentum invites readers to head out to
?tropical? Portland, Oregon, for the fourth Mini-Bike Winter. The
annual race stems from the subculture of zoobombers — daredevils
on bikes with 16-inch or smaller wheels. The impracticality of
spinning downhill on an ant-sized bike need not deter the more
practical-minded biker from Momentum: there’s plenty in
this issue for you, including reviews of new courier bags and an
interview with a local maker of some creatively designed bags. Also
in the December/January issue, Chris Keam follows the ‘evolution of
Critical Mass,’ rides held in major cities world-wide on the last
Friday of every month to promote and celebrate bicycling of every
variety, be it on tiny bikes, training wheels, track bikes,
tandems, or Mom’s old cruiser. — Evelyn Hampton

Seattle-based
Cranked captures the undeniable influence
of landscape on the Pacific Northwest’s bike culture while managing
to appeal to riders everywhere. Images of some of Seattle’s
best-known (and often most-loathed) hills accompany Issue #4’s
brief homage, ‘The Hills I’ve Come to Love in Seattle.’ The
article’s message — embrace the hills — would likely resonate
with riders negotiating inclines from San Francisco to Boston. Like
Momentum (see above), Cranked doesn’t focus
exclusively on local culture. For instance, the very detailed and
thoroughly enjoyable, ‘The Importance of the Bicycle to the Early
Women’s Liberation Movement,’ recounts early anxieties about the
corrupting influence of bicycles on women (cycling, it was thought,
‘heats the blood… destroys feminine symmetry and poise’ and is ‘a
disturber of internal organs’),? showing just how far our bikes
have taken us. — Evelyn Hampton

If the interplay of theology
and social responsibility piques your interest, the latest issue of
Friends Journal, a monthly Quaker
publication, is definitely worth checking out. The compilation of
socially conscious articles, book reviews, poetry, and news is
accessible to curious non-Quakers. The January issue explores the
increasingly familiar topic of US oil dependency in ‘Questions for
Quakers about Cars.’ Benjamin J. Vail argues that the way of life
Americans have built around the car has social, economic, and moral
parallels to the once seemingly indestructible institution of
slavery. Even if you don’t agree with the Vail’s views, his article
is thought-provoking, to say the least.– Jenna Fisher

Elizabeth Haidle’s drawings of hybrid animals, aptly
named clawtapuss, capybatta, and snailaroo, are my favorite aspect
of Carousel‘s volume 20. The delightful
cross-species creatures look like they belong in some futuristic
biology textbook, and are just one of the engaging visual features
found in the publication, which sets a high standard for the genre
of hybrid literary and arts magazines. Based in Ontario,
Carousel offers a fresh display of fiction, poetry and
artistic endeavors each spring and fall. The prose features are
engulfed by white space and frequently alternate with visual
images, making each page seem like an experience in itself. Expect
montages, graphic novel strips, and, at times, a visual sensory
overload. — Elizabeth Ryan

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