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.
The Oxford American, a magazine celebrated for the caliber of its writing (and for its stubborn adherence to the themed-issue format), pays homage to the 'best of the South' in its Summer issue. The result is a heartfelt and varied collection of short odes to Southern life in which writers pay homage to everything from the giant toads of South Florida to 'grandma's snuff.' This issue of the quarterly magazine also covers the seemingly obligatory discussion of what truly constitutes the South, as Jason Headley weighs whether West Virginia belongs in the region and John T. Edge professes to 'eat crow' for once excluding the cuisines of Florida and Texas from his book about Southern food. Elsewhere, from the North, Madison Smartt Bell shares his firsthand experience of the racial divide in Baltimore's courts. -- Eric Kelsey
New to the Utne library this week is Skyscraper, an indie-music quarterly based in Mamaroneck, New York. The thick-as-a-journal magazine publishes interviews, feature articles, and reviews from all corners of the independent music realm; most ofits writing is more insightful and to-the-point than what I see in many other music magazines. One highlight from the Summer issue is Matt Fink's revealing story on the members of British rock band Art Brut, who confess to being more heartfelt than their surly personas suggest. Skyscraper's exhaustive section of album reviews provides a valuable forum in which to spot new music that might otherwise fly under the radar, and the magazine's website houses a large collection of reviews from past issues. -- Eric Kelsey
The Summer issue of Contexts focuses on justice and change, looking into the dangers of neoliberalism, the possibility and potential of global unions, and the lingering problems with disaster preparation in the United States. In 'The United States in Comparative Perspective,' a hefty compilation of charts and graphs illustrates a series of major social problems -- for example, the United States imprisons more people per capita than any other industrialized nation, and yet ranks next to last in 'economic resources devoted to government social programs.' A publication of the American Sociological Association, Contexts is nothing if not comprehensive, featuring dispatches on new research, a photographic essay on worldwide grief, and an interesting review of a museum exhibit and its companion book about Samuel Colt, the inventor of the iconic Colt six-shooter. -- Julie Dolan
Who else but the Stranger would have a picture of a very pregnant-looking man in his underwear adorning their cover? In 'Getting Patrick Pregnant,' the feature article of the July 12 - 18 edition, Jen Graves expresses her desire to impregnate her male partner. It's merely one example of the many wonderful and strange offerings from the staff of this Seattle alt-weekly. The Stranger -- one of increasingly few metropolitan alt-weeklies not owned by Village Voice Media --is known for its palpable disdain for the mainstream, which lends it a unique (and often hilarious) voice. -- Natalie Hudson
Heifer International's World Ark may be the only magazine that can lay claim to such ambitious taglines as 'ending hunger' and 'saving the earth.' The bimonthly publication offers a window into the organization's humanitarian activities and sustainable agricultural projects being carried out across the globe. The July/August issue features an article on integrated farming practices in Vietnam, explaining how the Mekong Delta provides a perfect habitat for 'closed system' farming, where all inputs and outputs are utilized without waste. The project finds many innovative ways to use products often identified as waste, from the cow manure that's converted into bio-gas (used to heat stoves) to the fish ponds that provide enriched water for gardens. -- Natalie Hudson