Literary Links: Amazon vs. Indies, Jewish Mothers, and Amy Schumer’s Feminism

Here at Flavorwire, we pride ourselves on not only writing some of the best content on the internet, but keeping an eye on all of the great writing that other folks on the ‘net are doing, too. And since our audience (and we) love books in particular, we thought we would share a regular roundup of some our favorite bookish writing from around the web. This week: books about Jewish mothers, independent bookstores vs. Amazon, and the MFA debate continues.


Elissa Strauss takes on two books about Jewish mothering (they’re both sitting on my desk too) by Marjorie Ingall (Mamaleh Knows Best) and Danya Ruttenberg (Nurturing the Wow). “Out of all of Ingall’s mandates on parenting, the one worthiest of our deference is to teach children to question authority, including their parents,” Strauss writes of the first book, adding later, “I was moved by Ruttenberg’s framing of care work as a portal to the transcendent, just as was I touched by Ingall’s long-overdue analyses of what makes Jewish mothering both distinct and effective.”

Speaking of motherhood, Belle Boggs’ The Art of Waiting, my staff pick from earlier this week (and one of our September books), got a write-up in The NY Times, and Lit Hub has an essay from writer Laura Cronk about what her kids have taught her as a writer:

I got rid of my freedom, my solitude, swaths of psychic space.

But the wildness. The wildness I thought I needed to make art and that I worried I would kill in myself by marrying and having children never left me.

In industry news, a group of independent booksellers in Chicago have joined together to create a statement in advance of Amazon opening a “brick and mortar” store there.

Industry experts speculate that the purpose of brick-and-mortar Amazon stores is to continue to collect information that would aid Amazon in future non-book sales endeavors. To Chicago’s independent bookstores, customers are not just instruments for data collection to enable future sales; rather, customer support is the lifeblood that helps sustain both the stores and the vital communities those stores create.

And Pamela Paul lays out what her tenure as the New York Times overall books editor will look like, including “a heavy emphasis on books coverage outside of the traditional review structure.”

The MFA or not debate rages on, with the latest sally, from Emily Smith, called “The MFA as Calling Card.” “There’s a number of think pieces as to why writers continue to invest in a degree that will saturate them in debt, but the answer seems pretty clear: the MFA is a literary calling card, a title not unlike Vanderbilt or Kennedy that can often buy entry into the otherwise classist structure of the literary world,” she writes. There were so many responses that Brevity rounded them up.

Finally, Jia Tolentino has the most rational take on Amy Schumer/ Kurt Metzger-gate I’ve seen yet, in the context of a review of The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo: “While Schumer excels at sending messages, her medium is not the social-media denouncement [sic] or the op-ed. She expresses her feminism, which is brash, honest, irregular, and sincere, entirely through comedy. When she tries to communicate something political in another forum, or in another tone, it feels empty.”