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Snark: It's Mean, It's Personal, and It's Ruining Our Conversation

by

Snark: It's Mean, It's Personal, and It's Ruining Our Conversation Cover

ISBN13: 9781416599456
ISBN10: 1416599452
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

Review:

"Denby's strong narrative voice propels the reader through the text, and even turns a history lesson into entertainment as he traces the roots of snark back to the ancient Greeks." Rocky Mountain News

Synopsis:

From a New York Times-bestselling author and a writer for The New Yorker comes an argument against snark — the nasty combination of snide and sarcasm — with lessons on how to live without it by thinking and debating with true wit and intelligence.

About the Author

David Denby is a longtime film critic for The New Yorker; prior to that he was film critic for New York Magazine. He lives in New York City.

Table of Contents

The First Fit: The Republic of Snark

The Second Fit: A Brief, Highly Intermittent History of Snark, Part 1

The Third Fit: A Brief, Highly Intermittent History of Snark, Part 2

The Fourth Fit: Anatomy of a Style

The Fifth Fit: The Conscience of a Snarker

The Sixth Fit: Maureen Dowd

The Seventh Fit: What Is Not Snark

Reference List

Acknowledgments

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

Rebecca Lexa, February 9, 2009 (view all comments by Rebecca Lexa)
Snark! It's all over the internet, having been transmitted like a viral infection from traditional media. Now with the additional anonymity that comes so easily online, snark has exploded--and degraded in quality as well. Enter David Denby. In this fascinating exploration of snark as a form of humor, he clearly delineates where it's been, where it is now--and where it could potentially go.

Snark isn't a recent phenomenon, instead tracing its roots back to ancient Greece. Throughout its long and thorny history, its basic characteristics have remained the same--personal attacks designed to humiliate and denigrate, but with a certain amount of flair not found in simply abuse. Denby takes great pains to differentiate snark from its cousins, satire and sarcasm, and give it its own niche in the world of humor and commentary.

Yet snark has become cheapened in modern usage, and has lost enough of its edge to be a bludgeon instead. Denby spends an entire chapter dissecting the principles of modern snark, which ones are useful beyond the initial laugh, and which are merely juvenile posturing and insecurity. And this is where things get really good.

Without completely dismissing the art of snark, Denby skewers a number of modern snarkers (you may be startled by who gets targeted!). In doing so, he makes a heroic effort to rescue snark from the morass of merely vengeful abuse and anonymous internet harassment, and instead brings it back to its nobler purpose--social commentary and a call to a particular higher ideal (while still getting a chance to dig into someone's vulnerabilities for a laugh).
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takingadayoff, January 26, 2009 (view all comments by takingadayoff)
Is snark so bad? David Denby thinks it is. But he has a hard time deciding exactly what snark is. Using examples from history, literature, and the internet, Denby opens the conversation into what is irony, what is sarcasm, what is satire, and what is snark.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781416599456
Author:
Denby, David
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Author:
d Denby
Author:
Davi
Subject:
Sociology - General
Subject:
Popular Culture - General
Subject:
Wit and humor
Subject:
Invective
Subject:
Communication
Subject:
Media Studies
Subject:
Wit and humor -- Social aspects.
Subject:
Communication Studies
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20090113
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
144
Dimensions:
8.44 x 5.5 in 8.89 oz

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » American Studies » 80s to Present
History and Social Science » American Studies » General
History and Social Science » Sociology » American Studies
History and Social Science » Sociology » General
History and Social Science » Sociology » Media

Snark: It's Mean, It's Personal, and It's Ruining Our Conversation Used Hardcover
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Product details 144 pages Simon & Schuster - English 9781416599456 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Denby's strong narrative voice propels the reader through the text, and even turns a history lesson into entertainment as he traces the roots of snark back to the ancient Greeks."
"Synopsis" by , From a New York Times-bestselling author and a writer for The New Yorker comes an argument against snark — the nasty combination of snide and sarcasm — with lessons on how to live without it by thinking and debating with true wit and intelligence.
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