Saturday, April 18, 2009


Snark: A Polemic in Seven Fits: [It's Mean, It's Personal, and It's Ruining Our Conversations]
by David Denby [809 Den]

I found Snark to be a very interesting read, but ultimately somewhat lacking. Denby tackles a topic that is incredibly huge -- the increasing use of uncivil, unpleasant, "attack"-oriented dialog, which has become the main modus operandi of columnists, political hacks, and discussion forum trolls. Throughout the course of his book-length essay, Denby offers an intriguing look at historical precedents to modern Snarkiness, all the way back to the early writer Juvenal. However, by the end of the book, although I had been disconcertedly entertained by some of his observations, I didn't really feel that Denby had succeeded in clearly enough identifying what distinguishes Snark (or snarkiness) from typical irony and/or vituperation or foaming-at-the-mouth ranting. If you're interested in the rapid degradation of common civility in public discourse, you'll probably appreciate Denby's examples and asides. If you're looking for a true academic exploration of the topic, Snark will probably fall a bit short of the mark for you. I'll definitely give Denby marks for being an entertaining writer, though -- he's a film critic for New Yorker magazine. -- recommended by Scott C. - Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you read this one? What did you think? Did you find this review helpful?

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