From the Stacks: July 20, 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.

OxfordAmericanThe
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

SkyscraperNew
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

StrangerWho
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

WorldArkHeifer
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

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