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A handful of homegrown 

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Here's how magazines start: "We were having a rare lavatory chat about how rare conversations are in the bathroom. From there, the idea rolled on to a literary publication dealing with bathrooms, distributed exclusively in them."

Philip McFee pauses, "It's the same old song--too much energy, too much time."

McFee and co-creator Travis Smith bundled their energy into HERE I SIT, certainly the most unique 'zine of the year. Five hundred copies of their inaugural September issue were distributed on the campus of UNC. More specifically, in the Carolina's bathrooms.

A 2006 graduate of the creative writing program, McFee says about 'zines, "There's something elegant about those little quarto-folded issues filled with great little pieces. Loved them." Smith is a sophomore creative writing student. McFee and Smith's treasures are 4-inch-by-5-inch, 16-page creative cornucopias of all things stall-worthy. My favorite: "Code of Silence Exposed: A Revelation from the Restroom," a three-page treatise on the "bylaw that demands a lack of conversation during the one or two minutes most will spend in the restroom."

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HIS is "your monthly review for lit in the loo." It's free, it's fun and we can't wait for the next issue. The October issue will be poetry-exclusive, focused on Beat poetic parodies from Ginsberg to Presley. The centerpiece, a very long poem, is called ... you guessed it, "Bowel."

Oh yes, there is one copy in Chapel Hill not in a bathroom. Here I Sit is now archived in the library's North Carolina Collection.

Last month, one local author concluded a 17-week run on The New York Times Bestseller List. A publisher's rep commented when she was spotted at the annual American Library Association convention surrounded by adoring fans and readers, "She's at the rock star level now."

Sarah Dessen is also a featured guest in Volume 15 of the NORTH CAROLINA LITERARY REVIEW. Editor Margaret Bauer went with a colorful children's cover for this 200-page issue covering children's and young adult literature in North Carolina. Bauer combines interviews, reviews, stories, newsbriefs and photographs. Here are just a few of the locals found this engaging, eclectic informative journal: Frances O'Roark Dowell, David Cecelski, Timothy Tyson, Louise Hawes, Eleanora Tate, John Kessel, Michael Parker, Carole Boston Weatherford, Haven Kimmel, Randall Kenan and Jill McCorkle.

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Editor Elizabeth Shugg had a vision and a puzzle: to connect Durham, Orange and Chatham counties into a magazine, and to name it. How do you get from Durham to Pittsboro? You hop in your car, right?

And so FIFTEEN501, the magazine, was born. Simply for hatching a most curious, creative title, this magazine deserves a look. Slick and glossy, Fifteen501 is a realtor's dream. That is definitely one side of the highway. But editor Shugg softens the "make-a-sale" motif with art reviews, town tours, recipes, healthy heart tips and landscaping guides.

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One Year After Katrina:The State of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast is a special publication of the Gulf Coast Reconstruction Watch, a project of the Institute for Southern Studies and Southern Exposure magazine. What we've come to love and trust about these committed neighbors is that when they decide to investigate something, they really get the truth out. Southern Exposure has won dozens of prestigious awards for their journalism about the South. And, no doubt, they'll win one for this effort, too. Editorial Coordinator Sue Sturgis has collected dozens of essays, charts, lists of facts and on-site interviews about post-Katrina life. As is usually the case with a Southern Exposure project, the presentation of facts is clear, specific and daunting. They don't waste words or time. This is the way it is. One hundred pages full, One Year After Katrina studies a dozen socio-political categories of change, from housing to education, justice to hurricane readiness. Each section is introduced with an easy-to-read graphic index. The bold numbers are stark.

Contributing writer John Valentine can be reached at ajcg@duke.edu.

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