David Denby

17 December 2010
160 pages


Snark – noun

Also snarky (adj.) and snarkily (adv.)

But just what is snark?

We all think we recognize snark when we see it – it’s a tone of teasing, snide, undermining abuse, nasty and knowing, that’s spreading through the media. Its practitioners think it’s funny, but it isn’t big and it certainly isn’t clever. So where did it all go wrong? What happened to the black comedy, the clever irony and the pinpoint satire we once admired and how did they turn into a charmless and witless way of speaking?

Inspired by Lewis Carroll, the New Yorker critic and bestselling author David Denby takes on the snarkers. In this sharp and witty polemic, he identifies the nine principles of snark and traces its history from its invention as personal insult in the drinking clubs of ancient Athens, through such diverse proponents as Alexander Pope, Private Eye and Tom Wolfe to its arrival in the age of the Internet, where it has become the sole purpose and style of many media, political and celebrity Web sites.

By highlighting what has gone wrong in America, Denby gives us a manifesto for a snark-free way of communicating in the future.'Snark is an important, defining work and an extremely satisfying read as well' John Berendt, author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

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