From the Stacks: June 23, 2006

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,
, the official publication of
United Poultry
, 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
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

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

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 Jenkins

You 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

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