Utne receives some 1,200 magazines, newsletters, journals, weeklies, and zines. Add in hundreds of books, CDs, and DVDs, and it's a flood of media that lines the walls of our library and piles high on our desks. All the ideas, people, and stories inspire lively daily chatter, but they can't all fit into our bimonthly magazine. So we share the gems here in our weekly editions of 'From the Stacks.' Check in every Friday for the freshest highlights of the independent and alternative media.
The June issue of The Walrus, a smart Toronto-based magazine akin to Harper's, features a cover section examining Canadian 'National Dreams' from the points of view of Roy Romanow, Alan Broadbent, and Mark Kingwell. More interesting to me: Marni Jackson's imaginative and funny account of a conference of blackflies ('BloodFest '06: The May 24th Blackfly Rally') and Joseph Kertes' essay 'The Truth About Lying,' the latter examining how writers alter facts in search of truth. (Though Kertes' facts about Thoreau are wrong, perhaps some truth is served, whether or not this was intended.) Also noteworthy: a profile of German artist Anselm Kiefer (who just came to my attention recently) and an untimely omnibus review of four graphic novels, three of which date from 2001-2004 (by Joe Sacco and Marjane Satrapi) and have been widely covered by US print media. -- Chris Dodge
The 101st issue of Censorship News, the official newsletter of The National Coalition Against Censorship, serves as a 'Crash Course' on censorship around the United States. And it couldn't have come at a better time: Congress recently renewed the USA Patriot Act, the National Security Agency is taking part in warrantless wiretapping, and journalists, anti-war activists, outspoken educators, and whistleblowers are being systematically silenced. Censorship News believes the problem could stem from a lack of knowledge about the First Amendment, and this edition is meant to bring people up-to-date. The issue also explores 'The Controversy That Won't Quit' -- Mohammed cartoons and the public outcry that still surrounds their publication. -- Bennett Gordon
If you're one of the embattled few who think concision is a crime, Environmental & Architectural Phenomenology -- a tantalizing title if ever there was one -- may just be the newsletter for you. Published thrice a year and edited by Kansas State University architecture professor David Seamon, the slim newsletter contains essays, syllabi, and anything else that promotes 'beautiful, alive, and humane' environments. The current issue is accessible yet conceptually intricate, packed with humdingers of phraseology. Highlights include: 'the reification of truth into knowledge-as-facts' and 'memory traces of the electrical frequencies of two continents.' -- Nick Rose
We just received an excerpt from Kendra Bailey Morris' White Trash Gatherings, upcoming in September from Ten Speed Press. If this slim sample is any indication, the full book will have you stirring and frying like a redneck faster than you can say, 'Ya'll git on in here and gitcha somethin' to eat!' Recipes for 'Cousin Eugene's Country Corncakes,' 'Cere's Holler Baked Cheese Grits,' and 'Bacon Grease Fried Apples' are interspersed with backwoods tails of squirrel huntin' and rat shootin', plus etiquette and decorating tips. Morris recommends recycling burlap sacks or paper grocery bags to scrawl invitations on, and transforming toilet paper rolls adorned with dried pinto beans into napkin rings. Take that, Martha. -- Kristen Mueller
You don't have to be a medieval explorer to uncover the mysteries of eras past -- or to use those discoveries to delve deeper into your own subconscious depths. In The Museum of Lost Wonder, due out in August from Weiser Books, Jeff Hoke has crafted a visual milieu of scientific theory and philosophical debate, from mapping the big bang theory to asking, 'What is reality?' Pull-out pages bordering each chapter (named after museum wings) engage readers' imaginations, begging them to snip, paste, and play as they build models of everything from the 'Path of Destiny Peep Show' to a 'Theater of the Mind.' -- Kristen Mueller
Healing the world one hug at a time, Mata Amritanandamayi, India's 'Hugging Saint,' has embraced disciples at least 26 million times. It's her way of highlighting the need for compassion. In addition to her hugs, Amma, as she also is known, offers the radical idea that if people worked 30 minutes longer and donated the money made in that time, starvation and other suffering could be eliminated. Read the entire interview in the Juneissue of the newly redesigned Chicago Conscious Choice of Chicago, now part of a four-magazine consortium put out by Conscious Enlightenment Publishing, which seeks to 'help individuals in their journey towards conscious enlightenment and universal truth.' The outfit's publications are locally free in Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. -- Miriam Skurnick