From the Stacks: May 4, 2007


| May 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.

I'm not sure what I expected to encounter in The Wonder Bread Cookbook, a collection of fluffy white-bread creations published by Ten Speed Press, but I wound up enchanted by recipes for cr?pes, strudel, asparagus rolls, and other surprising Wonder-based snacks. (It doesn't hurt that the book's chic food photography makes you drool over unlikely concoctions like Wonder Beef Cups and Tropical Wonder Casserole.) The recipes are drawn from the Wonder archives and from nationwide submissions, and some of them are charmingly out-there: The Wonder Easter Egg Sandwich, which calls for butter, bread, and chocolate-covered, coconut candy eggs, is one sweet-toothed family's Easter tradition. There's also a fun little discussion of Wonder's history, recounting the company's successes -- sliced bread, anyone? -- and acknowledging a few misfires, like the Wonder Round sandwich bread that unfortunately never took off. -- Danielle Maestretti

The NACLA Report on the Americas is dedicated to unraveling the complex relationships at play throughout the Americas. The bimonthly magazine takes its eponymous acronym from the North American Congress on Latin America, a New York-based nonprofit that disseminates information on US-Latin American relations and social issues throughout the region. The latest issue (May/June) includes a multilayered analysis of American immigration, profiling the efforts of the for-profit prison system in the United States to cash in on immigrant detentions, as well as the myths and realities of immigrant day laborers, the lasting effects of last year's immigration protests, and the anti-immigration group, the Minutemen. The publication, now in its 40th year, is geared toward activists, scholars, policymakers, students, and journalists, and purports to be 'the most widely read English-language publication on Latin America.' It also earned an Utne Independent Press Award for Best International Coverage last year. -- Natalie Hudson

Mothering knows family life isn't easy. That's why the magazine provides a space for readers to celebrate parenthood through stories of struggle and perseverance, family advice, and information on contemporary health issues. In the bimonthly's latest issue (May/June), Elissa Mendenhall offers a critical view of the new HPV vaccine, a subject that's drawn significant attention due to the connection between human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer. While acknowledging that Merck's new HPV vaccine, Gardasil, is 'a tremendous feat in the world of vaccine research,' Mendenhall cautions that the drug protects against only four of the 100 different strains of the virus. Though those four strains account for the majority of cervical cancers, the vaccine could leave girls and women with a false sense of security against some 30 percent of the occurrences of cervical cancers that Gardasil can't prevent. And despite the vaccine's FDA approval, she reports, the studies on the drug that are currently available for review were funded entirely by the manufacturer. -- Natalie Hudson



Soliciting stories seems to be the mission of graphic artist K. Thor Jensen on his road trip across the United States, depicted in the graphic memoir Red Eye, Black Eye published by Alternative Comics. After losing his job, his girlfriend, his apartment, his grandmother, and living through September 11th -- all in the first two pages of the story -- Jensen buys a two-month unlimited Greyhound bus pass and sets off in search of the 'hobo' life. In this tale of post-adolescent angst, Jensen visits cities from New York to Los Angeles, hears the stories he seeks, begs for change, and tries to get in a fight (hence the 'Black Eye' of the title). In spite of all this forward motion, Jensen never takes much initiative, and never finds much meaning in his adventure. In the end, he comes to a simple conclusion: 'Some things are just the way they are.' -- Bennett Gordon