Street Librarian: Dazzling, Amazing, Zesty

Magazines for zedophiles

| September / October 2006

It's hazardous duty working as the Utne librarian. Dozens of magazines arrive in the mail daily, ablaze with words that call for attention, no subject too bizarre. Laden shelves threaten to capsize. Like a zombie's, my eyes glaze and my stomach churns. With a zillion things to read, how do I keep from going crazy?

'Hocus, focus' is the answer, I've come to realize. The good librarian is organized. Alphabetically, from A to zed, the sizable Utne magazine collection extends, if not to the horizon, then at least a quite a few feet. One way to manage the maze of magazines is to start at the end, with Z.

Now I'm jazzed to recommend some publications from the bottom rack, an assortment that represents the diverse range of independent periodicals.

Monthly Z Magazine, dedicated to 'resisting injustice, defending against repression, and creating liberty,' began publication as Zeta in 1988, cofounded by Lydia Sargent and Michael Albert, who with others started the collectively run South End Press in the '70s. Ad-free Z runs articles and zealous commentary about world politics, including well-known voices of dissent (such as Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky) along with writers from the Southern Hemisphere. Each issue features Sargent's Hotel Satire column, as well as reviews and resource listings. $33/yr. (11 issues) from 18 Millfield St., Woods Hole, MA 02543;

The Zephyr (also known as the Canyon Country Zephyr) is a sharply focused lens on the U.S. West. Although it specifically covers the Moab, Utah, area, Jim Stiles' bimonthly publication shows how Western land and communities have been taken hostage more widely by real estate developers and people who cater to motoring tourists, off-road vehicle users, and lycra-suited trail bikers. The paper's motto, 'Clinging hopelessly to the past since 1989,' is mirrored by Stiles' past/present photo essays, some of which show beautiful places and how they've been ruined. $15/yr. (6 issues) from Box 327, Moab, UT 84532;

Zyzzyva, an above-average literary journal presenting West Coast writers and artists, features a 'first time in print' section each issue. More than 200 writers have debuted in Zyzzyva's pages, editor Howard Junker asserts, including actor Peter Coyote (Winter 1988). Besides poetry and short stories, recent editions have featured a gay man's reminiscences about his marriage to an immigrant woman; lino prints depicting Mother Jones, Emma Goldman, and Audre Lorde; some words about the leaf-hopping insect that lends its name to the publication; and outtakes from pitches to the editor, a snarky move that may be designed to cut down on submissions. $44/yr. (4 issues) from Box 590069, San Francisco, CA 94159;

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