From the Stacks: March 9, 2007


| March 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.

XerographyA 'hybrid of review zine and personal zine,' Xerography Debt offers a guide to some serious zine lovin'. With reviews organized by reviewer -- not by zine, as is usually the custom -- readers can get acclimated to each critic's quirks and preferences. Because the reviewers are zinesters themselves, criticism is constructive and admiration feels genuine. The current issue (#21) also includes a column by Clint Johns, who was 'the last major zine buyer in America,' arguing that the death of Tower Records was (and will continue to be) bad news for zines. There's also a funny piece by Jeff Somers, the self-dubbed 'Old Man on the Mountain of zines,' that offers advice and comfort to zine makers concerned about having their work scrutinized. 'Reviews from various sources, including sources that might be described as hostile or apathetic toward you, are valuable because they give you a broader view,' he writes. 'I mean, if you send Boys Who I Have Kicked in the Balls only to other ball-kicking enthusiasts, you're gonna get a pretty bland spread of reviews -- probably fairly technical reviews from people who know all the fine points of ball-kicking and judge you mercilessly on them.' -- Danielle Maestretti

Abroad View shares the experiences of students who travel abroad and manages to capture much of the potential and idealism of college life. Uprooted from the comforts of home, the magazine's contributors often encounter unexpected realities, both beautiful and harsh, in the wider world. In the latest issue (Spring), the magazine highlights the efforts of STAND, a student-run anti-genocide coalition currently working to end the violence in Darfur. On the lighter side, 'The Final Wang' tracks one Swede's Shanghai journey from exchange student to break-dancing cultural liaison. -- Natalie Hudson

If you're looking for a little wit and rhyme to brighten your day, see the Light -- a quarterly magazine of light verse. This charming publication features poetry from the well-known to the unknown, with wordplay on such typically unfunny topics as global warming and child labor. According to its website, the magazine 'discards what is obscure and dreary' in an attempt to restore 'lightness, understandability, and pleasure to the reading of poems.' At times the continuous rhymes can seem a bit much, but at its best, Light can be seriously entertaining. -- Natalie Hudson



St. Louis Journalism ReviewThe St. Louis Journalism Review, one of a handful of print journalism reviews left in the country, is facing a precarious set of changes. In the newly designed February issue, editorial notes explain that Webster University recently withdrew its longstanding financial support. In spite of this and other setbacks, both the former editor and the current publisher are framing the changes in a positive light. Here's hoping they're right, and that the presses keep rolling for this bastion of local media criticism. -- Jenna Fisher

Health LetterNo one likes being sick. And no one likes having to deal with the bureaucratic nuisances that come hand-in-hand with being sick, such as health insurance, sketchy doctors, and pharmaceutical companies. Health Letter, published by the Public Citizen Health Research Group, is a newsletter that sorts through complicated wellness issues so you don't have to. February's feature story examines the popular misperceptions and lesser-known benefits of Medicaid. Also in the issue, a note from the editor suggests that the US Treasury, not drug companies, should be funding the FDA. Another helpful item is an extensive list of drugs, dietary supplements, and consumer products that are being recalled. -- Mary O'Regan