From the Stacks: November 17, 2006

| November 2006

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.

O, lovingly hand-bound journal of literature and art! O, exquisitely letterpressed cover! Beeswax Magazine's beauty captivated me the moment I saw it. And I was delighted to find that Beeswax's editors clearly took this same care with its content. In the recently arrived second issue (Spring/Summer), the stories are engaging, delicately written, and often funny. I laughed aloud reading fictional blog dispatches from Ray Smuckles, an anthropomorphic cat who throws high-end parties nearly every week. I also got wrapped up in illustrations of prisoner personal ads an artist happened upon while online ('Benefits of dating me? No stress -- face-to-face once a week and letters the rest of the time'). Also intriguing: a short story about a 'longtime grocer' and an awkward conversation he overhears while arranging apples. -- Danielle Maestretti

Where nationalities are hyphenated, one can expect to find a culture that's more than the sum of its parts. Hyphen follows cultures and subcultures that form around the union of Asian and American. Not surprisingly, a motif in their Fall music issue is fusion -- the new and often controversial sounds that come of merging tradition and innovation. 'The Vibrations of Lineage' traces how classical Indian music has changed from a traditional practice subject to 'a strict code of lineage and patriarchy' to a contemporary genre that's influenced by technology and musicians' interactions with the West, often to the dismay of older generations. As musician Alam Khan, the grandson of Ravi Shankar's guru, quotes his father: ''There is fusion, and there is confusion.'' -- Evelyn Hampton

A certain level of timelessness shines through Manuel Rivera-Ortiz's photographs of Cuba. Current fashion is absent, classic cars dot the background, and the sharp contrast of the black-and-white film offers little clue that these pictures are from 2002. The photographs are just some of the pieces highlighted in issue 11.02 of Nueva Luz, the tri-annual photojournal that publishes the work of photographers of African, Asian, Latino, Native American, and Pacific Islander heritage. Commentator Margarita Aguilar revels in the featured artists' abilities to present themselves as travelers, both to 'real, geographical places as well as imagined landscapes or distinctive spaces conjured up by their imagination.' -- Rachel Anderson

At the recommendation of a colleague, a few of us sat down after work one evening this week and braced ourselves to view American Blackout. Directed by the Guerrilla News Network's Ian Inaba, the documentary highlights the egregious dearth of reporting on the voter suppression in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, offering the chilling truth about manipulation not only in Ohio and Florida, but also in Georgia -- as witnessed in former Rep. Cynthia McKinney's campaigns. McKinney, an African-American woman serving her fifth consecutive term in office, was asking the tough questions in Congress about the events of Sept. 11, 2001, when no one else was. When her behavior was deemed unpatriotic (and threatening), her reelection bid was sabotaged by crossover voting tactics employed by an unremorseful Republican interest group. American Blackout stimulates one's social conscience, heightens the importance of civic responsibility, and calls for action. -- Elizabeth Ryan

For those trying to navigate the daily onslaught of headlines from the Middle East, Dan Smith's latest book, The State of the Middle East: An Atlas of Conflict and Resolution, will come in handy. Published by the University of California Press, Smith's 'atlas' guides readers through the tumultuous region's complex issues and conflicts. The book is broken into sections that cover everything from the Ottoman Empire, to the formation of the state of Israel, through the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, and beyond. It's filled with readable graphs and colorful maps that pinpoint everything from regional ethnic and language groups to military spending and urbanization. -- Jenna Fisher

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