From the Stacks: May 25, 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

Collect Raindrops: The Seasons GatheredCollect 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

AmericanBranding 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
. — Eric Kelsey

The year’s first issue of Isotope arrived this week at the Utne
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
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

Ninth LetterThe colorful, eye-catching design of
, 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

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