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.
A Himalayan peak stands before a midnight-blue sky on the cover of this month's India Currents (vol. 20. no. 3). Inside the San Jose-based magazine, Indian-American Meera Desikamani's cover story recounts her trek through the expansive mountain range. Traveling across glaciers, climbing a grueling 6,000-meter pass, and narrowly escaping the wrath of a 200-foot wide, 5-foot-thick mass of plunging snow, Desikamani seeks to satisfy a deep thirst for her native land. Between descriptions of sleeping under canopies of stars and admiring the 'glittering arrays of peaks,' she succeeds in both satiating her own appetite and inducing wanderlust in others. -- Kristen Mueller
It's not too often a book arrives that inspires whole-hearted jealousy among the staff members who weren't quick enough to get their hands on it. But the revised, expanded edition of Dianne Onstad's Whole Foods Companion (Chelsea Green 2005), first published in 1996, did just that when it came in this week. Inside the textbook-sized guide are nutrition-class worthy stats on the nutrients in a plethora of fruits, veggies, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, oils, herbs, and spices. Yet unlike assigned reading material, the accompanying text on each item's history, folklore, and current culinary uses make this a read you'll want to pick up without prompting from a professor. -- Kristen Mueller
No matter which came first, the chicken or the egg, Poultry Press, the official publication of United Poultry Concerns, is here to remind people not to eat either one. The latest issue documents various atrocities and indignities inflicted upon chickens, from the inhumane conditions of egg farms to tourist traps that force their chickens to play basketball and tic-tac-toe for spectacle. A house-ad inside the magazine reminds people, 'Nonviolence begins at breakfast.' -- Bennett Gordon
Cultural Survival Quarterly, the magazine committed to 'promoting the rights, voices, and visions of indigenous peoples,' has dedicated its latest issue to 'Indigeneity in Africa.' Executive Director Ellen Lutz addresses the topic as it has played out during the ongoing genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan. The question of whether Darfurians are 'indigenous' is a problematic one, she says, noting that 'debates over terminology have an insidious way of undermining or delaying desperately needed intervention.' The Summer issue -- which debuts the magazine's move to full-color -- also covers the Batwa, a marginalized culture in a place where ethnic distinctions have been outlawed: Rwanda. -- Bennett Gordon
With 'Armageddon' scrawled on the cover, and homophobia in the Middle East as a lead article, the latest issue of New Humanist is engaging, if a little gloomy. But two-thirds through things lighten up with Sally Feldman's piece on women's hair, 'Because You're Worth It.' Feldman tries to hit all avenues on the power of the tress, with religious interpretations (divine, tempting), anthropological explanations (evolution, fertility), and a cross-cultural agreement that long hair equals 'unrestrained sexuality.' The piece even wanders into the beauty shop realm, reminiscing about styles and hazardous hair products of yesteryear. With no mention of hair in the cover story, 'Judgment Days,' we'll just have to wait for the coming of the next style. -- Rachel Anderson
Bringing the 'news of the world environment,' the June issue of Earth Island Journal covers the heights of farming and the depths of water privatization. Caitlin O'Brien treks to 15,000 feet to see Bolivia's high-altitude agricultural wonder for herself, and Jeff Conant chronicles the backlash in the Americas as water loses its status as a human right. The issue is substantive with enviro-pros and woes, but I think the most delicious piece is Amanda Marcotte's editorial, 'You want guys with that,' that finally brings to light the damage those fast-food commercials proclaiming 'I am man! I eat meat!' are doing for conceptions of women and men. -- Rachel Anderson
In the Spring/Summer issue of Isotope -- 'a journal of literary nature and science writing' -- poetry and prose nestle around the centerpiece, Eric Alan's attentive photos of tiny creatures and bright flora. In 'The Hosta Man of Toledo,' Gabriel Welsch delves deep into the rich and continually surprising world of hosta, and the abundant varieties and uses of the plant so often written off as simple ground cover. 'Guerrilla Gardening' chronicles Richard Hague's experiences with community gardening and his frustrated efforts to nurture the abandoned lot across the street from his house. Essays like these and the poems alongside them are knowledgeable and engaging, ready to satisfy scientists and lovers of literature alike. -- Rachel JenkinsYou don't often expect a graphic novel to be a challenging read, but Rick Veitch's Can't Get No (DC Comics imprint Vertigo, 2006) is one of those rare finds that furrows the brow even as it entertains. The story is set in New York on and around September 11, 2001, and gives new, puzzling, surprising meanings to the day's events and after-effects. The absence of spoken language forces the drawings to the forefront as the main storytelling mechanism, Veitch's narration, is not really narration at all but a kind of dreamy, philosophical voice-over that deepens the meaning of the images but does little to clarify them. Veitch's illustrations carry the plot and define the characters all alone, a testament to the author's artistic prowess. -- Rachel Jenkins