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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Snark: It's Mean, It's Personal, and It's Ruining Our Conversation
0 stars -
Simon & Schuster -
by Rocky Mountain News,
"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."
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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