Briefly Noted: Our Nutty Newsstands


One of the great joys of markets is how much they reveal about the delightfully varied strangeness of our culture, and how an individual's mania can shape the pleasures and ideas of thousands of others.

Cult Magazines: A to Z, A Curious Compendium of Culturally Obsessive & Curiously Expressive Publications (NonStop) is a joy, although it lacks the encyclopedic pretensions hinted at by the "A to Z." Edited by Earl Kemp and Luis Ortiz, the book is a copiously illustrated guide to eye-poppingly weird publications, mostly from the 1930s through the '60s, that explored saucy sex, UFOs, hot rods, the supernatural, "hygiene," and lowbrow comedy.

Within four pages you'll see a breasty devil woman on the cover of Laff Annual, an aquatic monster on Mechanix Illustrated, and a straight-up sunbathing nude on Health & Efficiency. Modern newsstands will seem a pale substitute, although thanks to the Web we all can indulge whatever obsessions we have to our twisted little hearts' content, for free. —Brian Doherty