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Snark [Hardcover]

David Denby

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Book Description

Jan. 13 2009
• An acclaimed and thoughtful author: David Denby has been writing insightful film reviews since the 1970s. Formerly a columnist for The Atlantic and New York magazine, he has been with The New Yorker for the past decade. His nonfiction account of Western literature, Great Books , has been praised for its intelligence and breadth of scope..

• A biting polemic on the cultural tone of today: Snark tells the story of that nasty combination of snide and sarcasm that goes beyond irony and satire to just plain ugliness. Snark erupts from the mouths of politicians and pundits, from bloggers and newscasters, and from comedians too lazy to be truly funny. It’s the cheap shot that hits below the belt. It’s everywhere, and according to Denby, it’s damaging to everyone it touches. .
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (Jan. 13 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416599452
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416599456
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14.2 x 1.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #790,911 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"[A] densely packed, thoroughly [listenable] foray into a contemporary phenomenon." ---The Boston Globe --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

About the Author

David Denby has been film critic and staff writer at The New Yorker since 1998; prior to that he was film critic of New York magazine. His reviews and essays have also appeared in The New Republic, The Atlantic, and The New York Review of Books. He lives in New York City.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2.3 out of 5 stars  96 reviews
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting mess Feb. 26 2009
By Julie H. Rose - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
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.
41 of 52 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Lazy writing, Lazy points Feb. 1 2009
By Brigid - Published on
The very fact that Denby would choose to "take on the snarkers" by being snarky about them undercuts his point. If he truly finds the form so distasteful why is it good enough for those he disagrees with. Additionally he doesn't seem to understand what "snark" really is. This reads like someone who doesn't get it rather than any kind of serious cultural critique. It also features some serious factual errors that serve to undercut his point even further. When coupled with the lazy sexism inherent in some of his points (any woman who writes anything mean about another woman has some form of "cat fight syndrome," it's true) it makes the book nearly unreadable.
49 of 63 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Factual Errors + No Humor = General Misunderstanding Jan. 31 2009
By EllenJay - Published on
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.
39 of 50 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars we are not snarky because we agree with David Denby Jan. 30 2009
By Patricia R. Andersen - Published on
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.
22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Shallow Feb. 1 2009
By Stop me before I type again - Published on
Off to a bad start because he doesn't understand his subject, the "what" of current controversy. His argument -- if such it is -- is made worse because Denby simply doesn't understand how opinion is formed and expressed on the Net and elsewhere either. Mr. Denby is thereby sadly ill-suited to opine on the subject of Snark.

Maybe he should look at a recent article in his own New Yorker to see how savagely political debates have gone in this country in the past. He certainly doesn't understand the present. He should stick to media where things move more slowly.

Don't waste your money on this one.

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