Utne receives some 1,200 magazines, newsletters, journals, weeklies, and zines. Add in hundreds of books, CDs, and DVDs, and it's a flood of media that lines the walls of our library and piles high on our desks. All the ideas, people, and stories inspire lively daily chatter, but they can't all fit into our bimonthly magazine. So we share the gems here in our weekly editions of 'From the Stacks.' Check in every Friday for the freshest highlights of the independent and alternative media.
My heart was aflutter this week when a package arrived in the Utne library from Buenaventura Press, publisher of some of the best comic art in the country. Alongside Comic Art Magazine #8 (a fun read in its own right and an excellent introduction to the genre) was a wee red 'supplement' book brandishing the gold-foil title, 40 Cartoon Books of Interest, by Seth.?A renowned comic artist himself, Seth introduces the book as a list of neither the best nor the most obscure, but rather as 'an eccentric grouping of favourite books.'?Two tiny pages are dedicated to each book -- one displays a photograph of the cover and Seth's brief description/personal rumination, the other exhibits a selection from inside the book's pages.?40 Cartoon Books of Interest is clearly a labor of love -- an ode to collecting, to books, to cartooning, and an informed and entertaining peek at the evolution of an art form.?-- Elizabeth Oliver
Brain, Child is a refreshing, witty rumination on the joys, frustrations, and curiosities of parenthood. Aimed primarily at mothers, the accessible and engaging writing will likely capture the interest of fathers and non-parents as well. Of the gems in the Fall issue are Sabra Ciancanelli's 'When Solly Lost Hairy,' an account of her son's braided-wig-hair variation of The Velveteen Rabbit, and 'Move the Phone Book Closer,' Hope Gatto's experience with the old, 'Oh, what a tangled web we weave' adage. With excellent writing throughout, and a balanced, honest take on the rewards and tribulations of parenthood, Brain, Child is a delight to read. -- Suzanne Lindgren
ON Nature, a quarterly publication of the Federation of Ontario Naturalists, explores the environmental costs of greenhouse farming in its Autumn edition. In 'The New Farm,' Ray Ford looks at high-tech, big-box greenhouses that let growers cheat Old Man Weather. But, Ford points out, the bounty has its costs: 'water, waste, and energy.' Also in this issue: a look at the popularity of city farming and what gardening groups are doing with their harvests. Read on and you'll find 'Good Food Gone Bad.' It's not the tantalizing spread of bikini-clad fruit and vegetables the title hints at, but a fascinating piece that breaks down information on the declining nutritional punch of the foods we eat. -- Jenna Fisher
Inside the Fall issue of The Threepenny Review, a literary quarterly, lie two essays that highlight the profound impact people (real and imagined) have on one another. Janna Malamud Smith's 'Smarrita,' a moving eulogy for her mother-in-law, illustrates the multiple journeys that death forces both the dying and the grieving to embark upon. In 'On Zadie,' Clifford Thompson explores the importance of multiculturalism and observations of character in Zadie Smith's works, and the hidden but loud idiosyncrasies she laces into her characters. Of Smith's rich and full novels, Thompson writes that Smith achieves what is sometimes missing in literature: '?character development and the beautiful illumination of the human condition, however unbeautiful it might be.' -- Miriam Skurnick
Celebrating its 150th anniversary, The Atlantic still lives up to its reputation for offering thoughtful political and international commentary and coverage. As the Middle East dominates headlines, The Atlantic's October issue focuses on North Korea, the fragile and volatile country that Robert D. Kaplan says is destined to collapse. He speculates about the end of the Kim Family Regime and whether that downfall will involve their hearty stock of weapons of mass destruction. Kaplan's take on the situation is just one of many to ponder in this issue. Other items to contemplate include who has the most to lose in Lebanon's war and the inverse correlation between middle school science test scores and the confidence of students around the world. -- Rachel Anderson
Read through the seventh volume of Make and you might just feel like MacGyver. The publication speaks to do-it-yourselfers and hobbyists as much as it does to novices who may have been cursed with all thumbs. This issue offers instruction on multiple ways to silence annoying toys, a plant grafting guide, and a how-to for making your own DNA lab in your kitchen. For those weekend warriors who've always dreamed of launching off into space, Make gives them the next best thing: a blueprint for a camcorder rocket to record an astronaut's view of the neighborhood. -- Rachel Anderson
Blueprint, a monthly out of London, fuses the currents of architecture, design, and culture with a heady touch. In September's 'More Bling for Your Bucket,' Tim Abrahams parses the pop-culture subtext of a bright lime-green ice bucket designed for Dom P?rignon. Abrahams discusses Brooklyn rapper Jay-Z's pronouncement of Dom P?rignon's rival, Cristal, as racist and examines the role of conspicuous consumption in the marketplace. Blueprint possesses an international focus that helps keep readers abreast of notable trends and ideas in design from around the globe. And, while it seems aimed at the professional, the magazine's slick design and compelling writing guarantee accessibility to anyone with a passing interest. -- Suzanne Lindgren