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What is snark? You recognize it when you see it -- a tone of teasing, snide, undermining abuse, nasty and knowing, that is spreading like pinkeye through the media and threatening to take over how Americans converse with each other and what they can count on as true. Snark attempts to steal someone's mojo, erase her cool, annihilate her effectiveness. In this sharp and witty polemic, New Yorker critic and bestselling author David Denby takes on the snarkers, naming the nine principles of snark -- the standard techniques its practitioners use to poison their arrows. Snarkers like to think they are deploying wit, but mostly they are exposing the seethe and snarl of an unhappy country, releasing bad feeling but little laughter.In this highly entertaining essay, Denby traces the history of snark through the ages, starting with its invention as personal insult in the drinking clubs of ancient Athens, tracking its development all the way to the age of the Internet, where it has become the sole purpose and style of many media, political, and celebrity Web sites. Snark releases the anguish of the dispossessed, envious, and frightened; it flows when a dying class of the powerful struggles to keep the barbarians outside the gates, or, alternately, when those outsiders want to take over the halls of the powerful and expel the office-holders. Snark was behind the London-based magazine Private Eye, launched amid the dying embers of the British empire in 1961; it was also central to the career-hungry, New York-based magazine Spy. It has flourished over the years in the works of everyone from the startling Roman poet Juvenal to Alexander Pope to Tom Wolfe to a million commenters snarling at other people behind handles. Thanks to the grand dame of snark, it has a prominent place twice a week on the opinion page of the New York Times.Denby has fun snarking the snarkers, expelling the bums and promoting the true wits, but he is also making a serious point: the Internet has put snark on steroids. In politics, snark means the lowest, most insinuating and insulting side can win. For the young, a savage piece of gossip could ruin a reputation and possibly a future career. And for all of us, snark just sucks the humor out of life. Denby defends the right of any of us to be cruel, but shows us how the real pros pull it off. Snark, he says, is for the amateurs.
What a senseless piece of garbage. Since when does proving that one is out of touch garner a book deal? At its best, Snark is uninformed and off-the-mark. At its worst, it is baseless and malicious. Since fact-checking and proper editing were apparently disregarded, maybe Denby should have just gotten a blog....more info
- Too Long
This should have been a single short essay rather than a full-on book. The concept is an interesting one--that snarkiness has become so pervasive it's completely destroying discourse and, from there, lives. Unfortunately, there's no succinct definition of "snark" here, it's more "I know it when I hear it." This is a strange little tome. I wish I could say it was compelling, because I completely agree with his basic thesis, but it's not. Instead, it wanders aimlessly from point to point without hitting any of them hard enough to make for worthwhile reading....more info
- I Am Ironic, You Are Sarcastic, She is Snarky
About halfway through David Denby's Snark, I realized that I still didn't know exactly what Denby meant by snark. Before I started the book, I was confident that I understood what snark was: a sarcastic, possibly clever, comment, a smart aleck remark. But after reading Denby's numerous examples on what is and isn't snark, I realized that he thought it was something more than that. But what?
Denby gives many examples of what snark is and what it is not. This should be helpful, but he contradicts himself time after time. Snark, he argues, is what an internet troll does, attacking people anonymously. But his example of the epitome of snarkiness is Maureen Dowd, who is not anonymous.
The Eighties satirical magazine Spy (and the British magazine that inspired Spy, The Private Eye) could be snarky, but was often brilliantly satirical, in the tradition of the Roman poet Juvenal, in Denby's opinion. Then he cites an example from Spy that he considers "perfectly phrased...spiced with a touch of social conscience..." The Spy excerpt mocks rich, thin women with their "chicken necks and shriveled earlobes." This kind of snark strikes me as being more in the spirit of Mister Blackwell and his Worst Dressed List than it does of Juvenal.
Denby attacks bad journalism and bad writing as examples of snark. Bad journalism and bad writing are offensive in and of themselves, whether they contain the element of snark or not.
Perhaps snark can be defined as being directed at an individual? No, Denby cites a restaurant review that mocks only the menu as an example of snark.
Denby isn't against snark entirely. He thinks it has its place, that is, when the target deserves criticism. He likes the irony (which sometimes slips into snark) of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. He thought the snarky restaurant review was warranted. He seems to be against undirected snark, snark that lashes out at everyone.
And he isn't above using snark himself. He notes that Obama, in the presidential campaign, "...was subjected to...innuendo, slander..." but his defenders "...refuted the snark directed at the beloved young Democratic Prince." Describing Obama as the "beloved young Democratic Prince" sounds sarcastic to me, but maybe I am starting to see snark everywhere.
Perhaps the proliferation of snark is an important topic and Denby's book is useful in getting us to talk and think about the effect of snark on civil discourse. But it seems to me that it is important to define just what it is that we don't like and Denby has tossed a multitude of pet peeves into this book: the erosion of privacy, internet stalking, bad writing, sloppy journalism, paparazzi, Joe Queenan.
In the end, the blurb on the inside flap seems to sum it up: "What is snark? You recognize it when you see it..." Denby never defines it, but he knows it when he sees it. Snark, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.
- intellectually lazy
This is a work defined by intellectual laziness and poor grasp of subject matter. It is a fine example of false teleology; The author attempts to construct a chronology of a recent cultural episteme without full knowledge of its discursive history then completely illogically projects it back throughout time. Also, in addition to turgid prose, it is wrought with factual errors....more info
- I know why it has such crappy ratings!
People who are snarky are just full of themselves enough to pick this up and flash it's yellow cover around as a beacon to other snarks. But beware if it is solidarity in your exclusionary practice of being a social jackass that you seek in this book! You won't find it here. You'll find what you already know, deep down inside: snark is another version of being unhappy masquerading as being above it all.
Snarky people hate being told the truth about their favorite peccadillo, and are also the most likely to pull this one off the shelf and write reviews about it. Hence the unseemly low rating right now. More non-snarks should get their hands on it, though. I really enjoyed it. ...more info
- On the Current State of "Conversation"
I think Denby makes a valid point that a lot of what passes as journalism, analysis or commentary is nothing more than verbal sniping for its own sake and amounts to not much more than infantile verbal jousting you might hear in a schoolyard. That the internet is an enabler of this is indisputable - virtually anyone with access to it can rant anonymously on just about any subject or person simply because it's there (see some of the less substantive book reviews even here, as I write anonymously). I often find myself when listening to sports or other commentators thinking "So what's the point?" Would that the level of discussion could be elevated to something more dignified or enlightening, but I doubt that will ever happen.
I think that Denby is right on target when he writes about how we embrace celebrity only to then trash it, as if by doing so we vindicate something about ourselves (hey, at least I'm not jumping up and down erratically on Oprah's couch).
It's an interesting read that perhaps will help some of us to think twice about why we are writing something, and do it purposefully, especially when we are criticizing....more info
- Save your money for more important things. Like, well, anything.
I had a choice to spend my money on something at Amazon, and I should've picked the TruckNutz instead of Snark. If you like books that cherry pick examples and then either supplement them with made-up details or gross misinterpretations, then you will LOVE Snark. Why won't Barack Obama apologize for this horrible book Denby has written?
This is a tough book to get into. Denby pulls in historical development and anecdotes of snark and strings these together into a book that doesn't seem to go anywhere. I probably will not be interested enough to finish the book....more info
Who's snarkier than a film critic, or any person whose bread and butter comes from tearing down what others have created? I expected better. However, if you're looking for a coherent definition of snark, you won't find it here. You won't really find coherent here, period. The most surreal moment was probably when the author, who clearly has no love for conservatives and Republicans, not only tried to tear into Wonkette, the top snarky progressive blog, but made such severe factual errors in doing so that they completely undermined whatever point he was trying to make (in case you read this, Denby, the Wonkette post about Chelsea Clinton that led to your brilliant observation that the snark was motivated by the "young woman" author's jealousy of Chelsea Clinton? It was written by a man; two of the three Wonkette editors are male. But nice sexist stereotyping anyway.). V. glad I read this in B&N and didn't pay for it....more info
- A short essay stretched to the length of a book goes on a bit too long but does have its moments of wit and insight
Disclosure: My review is based on a promotional copy I received.
Snarky comments have become acceptable in all walks of society. On the internet the ultimate in anonymous, cowardly commentary snark is what passes for wit represented a teasing tone with an undercurrent of nastiness that isn't good for our society, overselves, others or anyone with a shred of self respect.
Those who uses snark often misunderstand the concept of wit confusing being clever with being intelligent according to David Denby's book SNARK. SNARK is really less than a book but more than an essay--at 128 pages it manages to tackle the history of the word, the behavior, how it demeans and damages others. Denby's short book wittily takes us behind the scenes to the creation of the word. It was popularized by Lewis Carroll and his poem "The Hunting of the Snark" and Denby suggests (as have others) that the poem itself which portrayed the snark as something sinister and scary ("..beamish nephew, beware the day, if your snark be a Boojum! For then you will softly and suddenly vanish away, and never be met with again!"). Denby suggests that Carroll's fall out with the Liddell family (who had two little girls one of whom may have been the inspiration for Alice in ALICE IN WONDERLAND)may have inspired Carroll to come up with this horrible beast. It also suggests (to me) within the context of the poem that Caroll is also commenting on snide comments and the damage they can do to others. Denby discovers that snark wasn't a word that Carroll invented (although he gave it new meaning)but its history goes back to the anicent Greeks and the drunken symposiums (big surprise there) where it began as a form of personal insult.
Denby contrasts the difference between ironic jokes, comments and snarky comments/behavior designed to damage the reputation or put someone in their place at a nasty cost to the other person. According to Denby snark crosses the line from humor to humiliation because while it appears witty it isn't humorous allowing the "snark" to insinuate, insult and ruin careers.Denby suggests that snarky comments tend to be the work of amateurs who can't quite master the art of the mocking, clever, witty and humorous put down. He also suggests that the internet has allowed snark to proliferate out of control. He could be very well be right.
- Great concept for a book, but poor follow through in every way
Although author David Denby has a decent writer's voice and is a capable researcher, the entire book "Snark" falls apart because of one gigantic fatal flaw - the author's inability to keep from contradicting himself constantly.
Denby continually changes not only his definition of snark, but his thesis as to why it is harmful as well. He will give an example of snark, only to come back later and give an example of someone being even meaner or far more spite-filled,only to say, "But that wasn't snark." He gives no clear guidelines, definitions, or firm description of what seperates snark from say, sarcasm, jibes, jest, catty comments or any of a dozen other types of putdowns. Because snark is never given a clear defintion or set of criteria for what it is, the book merely becomes a collection of conjecture and opinions with no real depth and thus the reader comes away having learned nothing that can be put to use.
In truth, "Snark" feels hypocritical because Denby seems to be attacking people for being snark, with either a lack of realization that he too is being snarky in his attacks, or it's a lovely piece of intended irony. Either way, it again defeats the purpose of a professionally written discourse on the subject leaving me unable to recommend the book to others. ...more info
- Cleverly written but not much more
About three chapters in I tossed this book down in disgust, saying to myself that it read like a lot of the stuff in the New Yorker Magazine - needlessly pretentious, with the writing going in witty circles to disguise the fact that there's not much actual substance there. I turned to the back cover and laughed to read Denby is a New Yorker writer. I guess I called that one!
I struggled through the rest of the book, thinking repeatedly that Denby seems to define wit as writing that skewers someone he doesn't agree with, and snark as skewering someone he approves of. He didn't do a good job of illustrating what other criteria might define snark. I actually agree with much of his political ideology, which makes it extra surprising that I found this double-standard so blatant.
Overall, the book was pretentious and empty - but prettily-written, if you like flowery prose and clever use of adjectives. But maybe I'm just the wrong audience. I'll freely admit to hating The New Yorker, so maybe I'm just missing the cultural references that would have made this a more compelling and appealing book.
- I hate snark
And so, for the most part, does Denby, though both of us do seem to recognize its occasional usefulness. This is a well-written indictment of what seems to pass for wit these days that does its best not to commit the sins it accuses others of.
The only major problem I have with it is, it was obviously written for, and will appeal to, people like me, who already agree with Denby. That may fire us up a bit, but we already didn't read Gawker and were disgusted by Emily Gould's "Exposed" (New York Times, 5/25/08).
What is needed is a book for the Emily Goulds of the world, and this most assuredly isn't it. I don't know if Denby could have gotten away with writing two separate books on the subject for different audiences, and my guess is to appeal to the people who need this book most he might indeed have had to sunk to their snarky level. Perhaps he isn't capable of that -- I don't think I would be.
So... thanks, David Denby, for writing this, and reminding me that I am not alone in my dislike of this style -- but please, someone translate this into language those responsible for this deluge of snark can understand!...more info
- lazy thoughts dreary book
A poorly researched essay lamenting insensitivity of comic / satirical work mostly about political events in USA.A tired and grumpy survey of
already forgotten journalism.
- Mr. Denby does not like Snark
Denby presents opinion as fact and comments like, "...snark stinks up the air without liberating any laughter", are sprinkled throughout the book. He seems remarkably convinced the world thinks and acts as he does. "Just the same as everyone else, Ph.D students immersed in Hegel or the intricacies of early Victorian landscape painting sit around leafing through celebrity magazines -- 'He's hot... she's so hot.'" Denby seems unable to understand some forms of Snark. He decries a comment saying Nancy Pelosi should be "(D-Beijing)". The illogical comment could mean she is so far-left she crossed the Pacific Ocean into China, yet this seemed lost on Denby who instead mused on China's current political climate. Finally, Denby tries to make the case that criticizing something (or someone) by dressing it up in grandiose vocabulary is somehow more agreeable than snark itself as evidenced by his eight page attack on Maureen Dowd toward the end of the book. Intending to single her out as "Queen of Snarks" and even blaming her for contributing to Al Gore's loss in 2000 and Hillary's loss in 2008, he did little than attempt to steal her mojo, erase her cool, and annihilate her effectiveness. No mention on whether she stinks up the air. Following the diatribe he briefly lauds Keith Olberman as one who avoids the weaknesses of this oft-insulted but still undefined practice he calls Snark....more info
- In Dire Need of Fact Checking
The title says it all.
Let me get this straight... a book written about snark is a poignant piece of information, but actual snark is bad? Unfortunately, you shoot yourself in the foot the second you pick a side.
Had this been just a statement of what snark is, and how it is shaping our society instead of a scathing b*tchfest in which the author reams any and all who picked on him in high school, then this might have been successful. Sadly, this is just a little man who might have been bullied as a child. ...more info
- Amusing read
Denby's slim volume is an amusing read, but will probably do little to arrest the snark tsunami that is the internet. The temptation of anonymous insulting invective is more than many of our fellow creatures can withstand. Why write on the restroom wall when you can secretly put it out there for the whole world to see?
Snark in our age is the offspring of the political correctness of the Left with the meanness of sprit of the Right. People who are unwilling or unable to make and defend thoughtful value judgements just write or say something mean and personal instead. All forms of media and even political discourse are permeated with an adolescent sensibility. Critics of both Obama and Palin routinely cross the line into snark.
Even Denby admits there are time when snark may be appropriate (reviewing over-priced, pretentious, mediocre, NYC restaurants for example). I think Denby would agree that snark is, as my mother used to say about profanity, the habitual expression of a limited mind.
It these types of cultural trends interest you, you'll probably find Snark to be worthwhile reading....more info
- Jumped The Snark
Denby is over qualified to author a book about snarky pundits/columnists, since he is the quintessential snarky movie critic. Too bad he couldn't set aside his politics for the afternoon it took him to cobble together this jejune pamphlet.
While it is admittedly satisfying to consider the possibilities of Maureen Dowd and Denby destroying one another in their respective forums, such a scenario is unlikely since Denby is only critical of Dowd when she has the temerity to tease fellow liberals, i.e. AlGore.In any event, hope springs eternal.
During an interview with Susan Paige on NPR's Diane Rehm Show, where Denby was hawking his pamphlet, he offered a sample of his rapier-like wit:
"I don't in fact in the book go after Rush Limbaugh or that gurgling, gangly, buffoon Ann Coulter. Is that snark? Let's call that a physical description."
This is where Denby jumped the snark. Apparently, Denby reserves his petty and sexist attacks on conservative women for a much wider radio audience rather than in his pamphlet headed for bookstore cut-out bins. As if Denby's ideology were in need of further clarification, he comes up with a bizarre rationalization why liberal pundits/comedians are immune from being labeled as snarky if the targets of their barbs are conservatives.
"What I get in Colbert and Stewart and in Keith Olbermann, too, who God knows can be snarky, is a real political passion. A real sense of values. In this case it is partisan liberalism, certainly. You can agree with it or not agree with it. But it is not merely opportunistic in the sense of going for anyone who is vulnerable in any way at all. There is a set of values there in which they are using humor to defend those values."
When Dowd pokes fun at AlGore, she is being unduly snarky, not humorous, because AlGore is one of the "vulnerable?" I guess Denby missed Jon Stewart's amusing clips featuring Caroline Kennedy's jarring speech habits.
Not surprising that Susan Paige neglected to ask Denby if he could offer any examples of pundits/comics/columnists that are just as passionate about their non-liberal politics, and who also do not target the "vulnerable." Dead air time is frowned upon by station managers. ...more info
- Totally worthless.
This book is nothing more than an extension of the extreme nastiness that we had to endure during the 2008 election campaigns. While Denby tries to confuse the reader with scholarly pretensions, the book basically boils down to "people who made nasty comments I agree with are true wits; those I don't agree with are harming our culture". That's why people are saying they aren't getting a clear idea of what Denby means by "snark": he doesn't have one any better than that. Fortunately for him, he picks the correct people to praise, and so he can get favorable reviews in most of the press. For myself, I'm sorry I wasted my time with this book.
Some books are so bad, I refuse to inflict them on others by reselling them or giving them away. This book is in that category. Straight into the recycling bin....more info
- Factual Errors + No Humor = General Misunderstanding
Denby had an interesting book idea, and given that I enjoy political satire and am interested in the way it was used on all sides during the last election cycle, I thought this might be a terrific read. Wrong. I'm not sure how Denby came to possess the many axes he wants to grind, but his criticisms are chockablock with factual errors. Not only did he need the services of basic fact-checking, but his own utter lack of a sense of humor means that he frequently misinterprets what he reads. If his complaint against some bloggers and media is that they attack people without reason and without careful adherence to standards of truthfulness, well... hypocrite, anyone? This is not worth your money; don't bother....more info
What do you get when you combine Karl Rove's respect for the truth with John McCain's understanding of the internet? Well, that's clearly what David Denby aspired to, but he falls short. Poorly conceived, pedantically written and shoddily "researched," this turd is too insubstantial even to serve as a serviceable doorstop....more info
- we are not snarky because we agree with David Denby
Mr Denby decided who is snarky based on whether that person or organization agrees with his view of the world. His writing seems to be more about "see how cool I am" rather than making any clear definitions of "snark". People said/wrote mean things about Hilary Clinton or Ted Kennedy - that's "snark". Make fun of John McCain's age - that's "wit". Attacking any liberal is "snark" but attacking any conservative (especially a female) Mr Denby considers wit.
So if you agree with that generalization, you'll probably like this book.
One chapter stands out in my mind - the one about Maureen Dowd. The subtitle is "Wherein the most talented writer of snark in the country is called to account for her malevolence and naivete'" Isn't it "snarky" to suggest that M's Dowd's whole career has been based on writing nasty comments about politicians? He even blames M's Dowd for Al Gore's loss of the 2000 presidential election. Even the remark "no one...wants Dowd to beat her swords into knitting needles." Is that snark or just plain sexist? I'd say a bit of both.
So here's my thought - if you are a conservative or a Republican (the two don't always go hand in hand, despite what Mr Denby may think), you won't like this book. If you're liberal or a Democrat (again, they don't always go hand in hand as other people may think), you're probably like it.
Your mileage may vary....more info
- POSITIVELY SNARK STREET
David Denby, normally a film critic for the NEW YORKER, wrote this essay on SNARK behavior, in hopes that the world's sarcastic, wisecracking wit will never sink below the level, of Alexander Pope. Apparently, Mr. Denby fears that all wit, irony, criticism, and erudite HUMOUR would be washed away by some snarky teenager on a blog. I don't mind that the essay takes so much time tracing the history of humor, from 8th century BC Greece, then the farces of ancient Rome, to Alexander Pope, and Samuel Clemens. Actually, the whole book is nothing BUT a critique of humor, and what kind of humor is "kind and intelligent", and what kind is sarcastic and hurtful. In Denby's mind, SNARK is hurtful, and stupid, and lowers our collective, communal humor. I suppose if I had read more blogs, I'd have seen his point. But I do think he is right. People DO attack people, lie about them, and assume that because they WROTE it, its true. People have a knee jerk reaction to this book as HORRIBLE, without reading it. And why? Because it criticises their own apparent behavior. Does the author do that? Yes, and it is hard to read. But nowhere NEAR as hard to read, as how people respond to the book itself. No matter.
So, is SNARK mean and personal? Sure, like some lowbrow humor, I think it is, or can be. So, are snarky blogs ruining our conversation, or lowering our sense of humor? WEll, maybe he is right. He deserves to be heard, or considered, because this is NOT a book written with NO ability. This is not a person without insight, even if its out of date. SNARK type humor, lowbrow, vendictive humor, has always existed in the lowest parts of society. People stuck a crown of thorns on Jesus, for a laugh. So, hurtful humor can lead to ALL kinds of sick laughter. Like those films done by comedians who dress up like the morbidly obese. Which is a disease, people die from, every day, and is heartbreaking, not funny. It does ruin humor. So, some humor can lower the "compassion" of our culture. And if the anomynous content of the web, cause people feel free to attack and lie, again, DENBY is correct. Are we so heartless as a nation? There are CRUEL people out there, slinging lying vindictives around, for the pure pleasure it gives them. Is that HUMOR? If you laugh, does it make it funny? Its personal attacks, often by unintelligent, uneducated childish people , and this writer feels like he should respond to it. AND, he has the RIGHT to express his viewpoint, without censoring his beliefs. He does have something to address, which is, how far do we, as a culture, what to take this SNARK humor? So, I am grateful he pointed this out in the book. But if you buy the book to KNOW what SNARK means, you might be disappointed, because he says so many types of humor is SNARK, its hard to tell what he exactly means by the end of the essay. What makes people laugh, runs the gamet from Shakespear, to tossing drawfs. If an essay makes you consider linguistic, cultural, or philosophical ideas in a new way, espeically humor, which is SUCH A INDICATOR OF A SOCIETY's CULTURAL SOPHISTICATION, then its valid in my book. So, you could do MUCH WORSE with your time, than to read this. ...more info
- Laughably uninformed and pointless
David Denby futilely attempts to define 'snark' and its corrosive effect on U.S. culture, but the New Yorker critic can barely muster a succinct definition of the term without contradicting himself. If you were looking for perspective from a 'public intellectual' in the vein of Susan Sontag's 'Notes on Camp,' you will be disappointed. Denby posits that anyone who does not espouse his political opinions is somehow guilty of snarkinees. So, he's basically a cramped and frustrated spokesman for the Democratic Party. And I'm fully aware that I'm snarky....more info
- Just so I understand...
...Snark is a detrimental philosophical outlook because it viciously attacks without reason. Writing books about snark however, where the author attacks only those with whom he disagrees, is an honest, noble calling? How is using a narrow personal interpretation of the world, while utterly ignoring the relative merits of a person's argument, a just cause?
This waste of paper would be illogical enough if he only set up the battle lines between liberal and conservative, an already idiotic delineation. But attacking fellow liberals for supposedly attacking other liberals? Brilliant.
With the fundamental concept of the book being such a shocking failure, it's just nitpicking to mention the mountains of simple factual errors. But, god forbid a member of the mainstream media bother with simple fact checking.
Wait, was that snarky?...more info
- Denby don't know snark
Denby writes on page 2 of his book that calling Obama "nothing more than a dumbass with a pair of lips so large he could float half of Cuba to the shores of Miami" is snark.
That's not snark. That's just stupid....more info
- I think I know why this was written.
After reading this (mercifully) short book, I'm reasonably sure that Mr. Denby was hoping to illicit snarky commentary from reviewers to prove his point.
It doesn't take long at all to see that Snark is a book aimed squarely at the NPR demographic. While I don't consider myself a member, even as an outsider looking in, Snark is a mess.
One might think that David Denby took a day or two to compile examples of snark and provide them as a compendium. Frankly, I think that may be giving him too much credit. The end result is little more than rambling about societal changes and quasi-political pot shots.
Should you happen to completely share the author's worldview, there is no doubt that this book will help you feel good about yourself. Beyond that, I can't think of a reason any other person would want to read this....more info
- An interesting mess
I agree with other reviewers that this book is a mess. At 121 pages, one would think an editor could have easily helped, but it appears that editing is becoming another lost art.
Denby rambles, rages, and contradicts himself frequently. Yet,unlike other reviewers, I enjoyed every page.
I agree with the book's premise (though, at times, Denby doesn't seem to agree with himself). Because of this, I could put up with this short book's many flaws.
And yes, Denby is an elitist. He seems to find "snark" perfectly fine when practiced by those with enough credentials (or an English accent). Honestly, I had to laugh at this bit of hypocrisy.
I must admit I found it refreshing to read such an imperfect book of ideas. I'm leaning towards congratulating Denby for exposing his thoughts in such a free-flowing manner, warts and all.
The subject of the degradation of public discourse is one that needs to be addressed. "Snark", at least, starts the conversation. It also reads like a conversation, which is another reason I found it compelling, even as I scoffed over one point or another.
If you enjoy cocktail party debate, you may enjoy this book. If you're looking for an intellectually consistent, well researched tome, pass it by. Goodness knows, everyone else is recommending you do just that.
Myself, I had a good time with this short romp. Denby obviously enjoyed writing this, and I didn't mind spending a few hours with him in print.
- Sad example of critical thinking
This is a self serving puff piece by a weak minded film critic expanded to book form. I liked the yellow jacket. The author doesn't rate any snark only distain. I'm glad it was a borrowed copy....more info
- A much-needed skewering of snark
Wander the internet, and you'll find what happens when ordinary people, given anonymity and an audience, say and do things they would never say or do in person. Much of what falls under the heading of snark these days is included in some of the more regrettable manifestations thereof.
David Denby does a lovely job of exploring the history and function of snark; this adds a good deal of context to the modern phenomenon, and why so much of it falls short of being *good* snark. He also takes pains to differentiate it from similar forms of humor, such as satire and sarcasm. Snark is given its own category and descriptors, and I ended up with a much better understanding of it.
Denby doesn't entirely denounce snark. There is a time and a place for it--but it has to be well-executed. His explorations of the principles of snark help bring modern shortcomings into sharp focus. Additionally, he draws on examples of journalists and others who have either done it well--or haven't. (You may be surprised at some of his assessments!)...more info