From the Stacks: March 9, 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.

A ‘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

The 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

No 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

NW Women’s Journal, a sister
publication of the NW Women’s
Directory
, is dedicated to being ‘the local voice for
professional women.’ Both publications come from the ‘100 percent
woman-owned and operated’ Purple Turtle Press in Vancouver,
Washington. The March issue of the journal touches on issues that
matter to working women everywhere, including the pitfalls of
working from home, how to finance a house, the relationship that
women have with golf, and how to use a website to market a small
business. — Mary O’Regan

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