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.
Collect Raindrops: The Seasons Gathered (Abrams, 2007) assembles a retrospective of calendar prints from self-taught artist Nikki McClure. Hardcover, with a cloth spine and no dust jacket, the book has decadent 10-by-13 inch pages that give McClure's exquisite paper cuts (created with an X-Acto knife) plenty of space to stretch and wander. Simple images -- father and son nestling in a tent, a pregnant woman contemplating dipping her toes into the sea, hands stretching into the air -- pair with optimistic words and phrases, reminding us to pay attention to the rhythms of life: Breathe. Trust. Vote. Admire it as a collection of art, or sit down and cycle through the seasons. McClure's socially conscious tidings make Collect Raindrops a picture book adults and children could share. -- Julie Hanus
Branding itself 'A Magazine of Ideas,' the American is a new project of the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute aimed at 'survey[ing] the full scope of American life through the lens of business and economics.' Now in its fourth issue (May/June), the magazine presents wide-ranging features in which the free market reigns as the solution for today's pressing political and social issues. Like many of its snarky, liberal print counterparts, the American attempts to turn conventional wisdom on its head with lead stories such as 'The Upside of Income Inequality,' co-authored by Nobel Prize-winning economist Gary Becker, and 'Club Dread,' a portrait of one white-collar criminal's trip to prison that turned out to be nothing like the 'Club Fed' he imagined. The American advances a set agenda to a clearly defined audience of global businesspeople, looking to combine the accessibility of magazines like Forbes and Fortune with the scholarly acumen of Harvard Business Review. -- Eric Kelsey
The year's first issue of Isotope arrived this week at the Utne Reader library. Published by Utah State University's English department, Isotope is a biannual journal of literary nature and science writing crafted with a scientist's eye and a humanist's warmth. Don't be fooled, though; Isotope's mission goes beyond the old theme of 'man in nature,' reexamining humans' relationship to nature and science in today's nascent green era. The Spring/Summer issue features a nonfiction piece by the journal Ecotone 's editor David Gessner, 'Field Notes on My Daughter,' in which he chronicles his changing approach to his fieldwork as a new father. This issue features mostly nonfiction writing and poetry, but a selection of Kate Breakey's hand-colored photographs helps illuminate the intricate aspects of portraying nature in art. -- Eric Kelsey
The heavily opinionated Progressive Populist comes to us straight from 'America's Heartland.' The twice monthly newspaper, published out of Storm Lake, Iowa, with an editorial office based in Manchaca, Texas, fashions itself as 'The People's Voice in a Corporate World.' True to that aim, the June 1, 2007 issue includes an article by A.V. Krebs, editor and publisher of the AgriBusiness Examiner newsletter, on leveling the field for family farmers in an increasingly monopolized food market. The Progressive Populist also taps various independent-minded media to reprint compelling pieces, which, in this issue, include the Salon ruminations of Garrison Keillor on 'the young people in sandy camo... getting chewed up in Mr. Bush's mill as if they were sorghum.' -- Natalie Hudson
The glossy pages of Black Renaissance Noire exude beauty and passion. Published three times a year (Winter, Spring, and Summer) by New York University's Institute of African American Affairs, the magazine showcases visual arts, poetry, and short stories 'that address the full range of contemporary Black concerns.' Interspersed within the latest summer issue are the black-and-white photographs of 'Making Carnival,' an exhibition by Charles Martin. The revelers and their intricate costumes captured in the photos offer a glimpse of the preparations for one of Brooklyn's biggest annual events, Caribbean Carnival. -- Natalie Hudson
The colorful, eye-catching design of Ninth Letter, a collaboration of the School of Art and Design with the English department at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, merges literary work with visual appeal, exploring the complementary intersection of art and writing. In the Spring/Summer issue, the bottom margins of an essay by a writer in Texas grappling with the arrogant, gun-toting, hyper-masculine stereotypes of his new home are filled with motifs of cowboys and longhorns. Sketches of foliage thicken with every page as an expecting mother's fears develop in an unusual nonfiction selection by Nicole Walker, 'Where the Wild Things Are.' . Each prose piece has distinctive artwork that successfully enhances its theme or setting, and while the writing is already strong, the design helps it stand out. -- Julie Dolan