If you frequent independent bookstores, you may have picked up a free copy of Hungry Mind Review, a four-year-old general-interest book review that celebrates its Midwestern home (St. Paul, Minn.) without dwelling on the subject. The sweep of its literary interest is broad and sophisticated, with a theme-oriented centerpiece in every issue. Last time (March), it was biography; the May/June issue majors in travel and landscape, and minors in baseball.
A quarterly printed on newsprint, Hungry Mind Review deals intelligently, at the proper middle length for most people, with what it deems to be the good reading of the day -- the way an informed bookseller of the old school might. Contributing reviewers are from time to time "name" writers, like Bill McKibben in the current number, but mostly they're part of Hungry Mind's impressive stable. Even more impressive is the considerable (and uncharacteristic) support in advertising dollars the U.S. and Canadian book publishing industry is giving to Hungry Mind. It must be reaching people.
Stop by your non-chain bookstore and ask for a free copy, or subscribe; it's only $7 a year (four issues). Write Hungry Mind Review, 1648 Grand Ave., St. Paul, Minn. 55105.
Just as Hungry Mind Review was conceived and born in a bookstore (St. Paul's Hungry Mind), another book review, Lambda Book Report, is the offspring of Lambda Rising bookstore, Washington's well-established repository of gay and lesbian literature. The Book Report's June/July issue highlights the winners of its (second) annual book awards, announced at the American Booksellers Association convention in Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago, along with the bimonthly's regular offering of reviews, essays, columns and such. Lambda Rising Book Report: Six issues/$15. 1625 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20009.
The Alternative Press Awards, conducted by the popular digest of the alternative press, Utne Reader, also have been announced. The winners are World Watch, for investigative journalism; Multinational Monitor, for international reporting; High Country News, for regional reporting (on the West); Family Therapy Networker, for feature writing; Out/Look, for special interest publications (lesbian and gay writing); Mothering, for service journalism; In These Times, for cultural coverage; E: The Environmental Magazine, for best new title; the Sun, for essays and criticism; Whole Earth Review, for coverage of "cutting edge issues"; and Wigwag, for art and design.
The awards for general excellence, in ascending categories of circulation, were Extra!, the newsletter of FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting); In These Times again; and Granta.
Tommy Can You Hear Me? If your hearing is deteriorating, there's a good chance it's your own fault -- not only that, it's because of your parents' favorite nag and worst nightmare: Going to too many rock concerts and playing the stereo too loud may have scarred your hearing apparatus to a point once common only among the elderly. This is the conclusion Peter Jaret reached researching modern hearing problems for In Health's July/August issue.
Personal stereos, it's grimly satisfying to report, are possibly a worse problem. Sound blasted into your brain through earpieces can be 100 times louder than that heard in a subway car. "The sound is too loud if someone sitting next to you can hear the music coming out of your Walkman-style stereo," audiologist Maurice H. Miller told Jaret. If the knob goes to 10, don't turn the volume beyond 4, Miller counsels.
The chance that this advice will be heeded is such that the following number -- for instructions on a telephone self-test of one's hearing -- should be kept handy: 1-800-222-EARS.
Letting Bygones Be Icons What is it with dead celebrities, anyway? Why are people so obsessed with the so-called (by Mason Wiley, in Exposure's July issue) Holy Trinity of the cold and famous, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and James Dean? Why do our own living stars seem to pale in comparison? And why do the harmlessly second-rank in life assume an aura of celestial importance in death? Capote. Joplin. Warhol. Hendrix. Mapplethorpe. Jim Morrison. Lucille Ball.
Wiley's essay is part of Exposure's clever package of material on dead celebrities, which exploits the very phenomenon Wiley laments: Phil Stern's fine photographs of Dean, Durante, Hitchcock, Monroe, Bogart, JFK. A story on a guy who gives tours, in a hearse, of Hollywood graves and death scenes. And another photographer's shots of Marilyn Monroe and her surroundings immediately after she died: the coroners, the tag on her toe, the morgue, the funeral. Really.
For a subscription ($10/12 issues) write Exposure, Box 52031, Boulder, Colo. 80321-2031.
Cravath, Swain & More We won't mention any names, but if you've ever telephoned a law firm with an umpteen-partner name and waited patiently for the receptionist to finish the honor roll, you know the problem being addressed in the May/June Washington Lawyer. Stated more bluntly, what happens when too many ambitious and egotistical partners insist on having their names added to the varsity list?
James P. Schaller gives us tasty little sketches -- occasionally in footnote form -- of how some of the capital's most illustrious firms have handled the problem. Arnold & Porter, Hogan & Hartson, Covington & Burling, and Steptoe & Johnson are among equally famous law practices in other cities -- Sullivan & Cromwell, Cravath, Swain & Moore, Jenner & Block -- covered here.
In most cases, firm names historically have swelled with new partners and mergers with other firms, so crowding their letterheads that underlings have complained about having to start letters on the second page. Cravath, Swain & Moore had so many incarnations over the years that people just got in the habit of saying "the Cravath firm." And there's a lesson there. The smart firms have learned, sooner or later, that there is virtue in consistency, in cultivating loyalty to a permanent firm identity, even at the expense of bruised egos -- and virtue too in simple brevity.