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Extended Audio Sample Snark: A Polemic in Seven Fits Audiobook, by David Denby Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.18 out of 53.18 out of 53.18 out of 53.18 out of 53.18 out of 5 3.18 (22 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: David Denby Narrator: William Dufris Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: March 2009 ISBN: 9781400181605
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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 book, 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. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • "[A] densely packed, thoroughly readable foray into a contemporary phenomenon.”

    Boston Globe

  • [A] densely packed, thoroughly [listenable] foray into a contemporary phenomenon. The Boston Globe

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Diandra | 2/19/2014

    " This was interesting, redundant to a point of excess, and all together taught me nothing new except the history of snark. Which was droll, at best. I never believed snarkiness was new, nor do I believe there honestly is an influx of snarky "journalism". However, I do believe that given the new medium (the internet), snarkiness plays a bigger role in everyday life, and tends to be the de facto voice of the rag tag journalists, bloggers, and celebrity "news". I liked the message here, but hated the delivery. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Robert Christian | 2/14/2014

    " Good premise, some solid points, but disappointing overall. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kathleen | 2/8/2014

    " Denby has done his homework for this slim volume. Beginning with historical chapters, he moves into what snarkiness is and isn't. While, the title intrigued me, (and I liked his American Sucker) the examples he used (politicians and celebrities) just didn't grab me. The principles seemed rather contrived. I especially disliked the chapter on Maureen Dowd, whom I happen to like. With editing, this might have been an interesting article, rather than a book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mr. Moose | 1/13/2014

    " Anyone writing anything on the Net should be required to read this book. I'll tell you more when I'm done. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Judith | 1/5/2014

    " I love a good polemic, and Denby is a masterful crank. This book is a fierce critique of contemporary snarkiness (nasty sarcastic destructive in-joking). Morally outraged, witty, and fun to read. He has an entire chapter on Maureen Dowd! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Gabe Durham | 11/8/2013

    " Individual distinctions in here are really useful and thought-provoking, but the book does not build to anything approaching a working definition of Snark. Unless you count Maureen Dowd. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 MollyD | 9/8/2013

    " This well written book addresses the nasty tone our national conversation has taken. Also gives examples of what is not snarky, but truly witty. Also interesting -the history and development of snarkiness. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jasmine | 4/12/2013

    " I read most of this one. I agree with a lot of it. Unfortunately, I think it helped me reach my current state of raging paranoia that Western civilization is going to wash away on a tide of snark and fifth-grade innuendos. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Alan | 12/20/2012

    " He's probably right, but I'm not sure what there is to do about it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Leonard | 9/4/2012

    " Snark is a brief look at the snide, critical, and often cruel comments written and spoken by columnists and other pundits. Denby precisely defines the term and provides examples. He digs into the history of the topic and illustrates how it's used today. Useful for media consumers and critics. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kevin Larose | 8/2/2012

    " I absolutely loved this book. I love satire, and hate snark. Sadly, there's way too much of it out there these days. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Edward Sullivan | 6/12/2012

    " A brief, witty commentary on the ongoing decline of civility, cleverness, and humor in spoken and written communication. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Martha | 6/14/2011

    " Wonderfully entertaining. Who knew Lewis Carroll invented the word snark? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ed | 4/21/2011

    " A brief, witty commentary on the ongoing decline of civility, cleverness, and humor in spoken and written communication. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Stuart | 11/8/2010

    " The snarky guy in me really wanted to like this book. I just can not recommend it. I tend to believe that a snarky attitude is a good thing and comes from an intelligent place. I waqnted more of a funny look at the subject rather than a bloated boring piece. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Judith | 7/9/2010

    " I love a good polemic, and Denby is a masterful crank. This book is a fierce critique of contemporary snarkiness (nasty sarcastic destructive in-joking). Morally outraged, witty, and fun to read. He has an entire chapter on Maureen Dowd! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Leslie | 7/3/2010

    " An elegant essay about an attitude that is slowly eating all of us alive. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Beau | 6/13/2010

    " Entertaining read. Some very good points on modern manners brought up. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Daniel | 5/1/2010

    " As stilted and unsurprising as one of his film reviews, but less concise. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michael | 4/12/2010

    " Well written and entertaining. Full of facts on the history of the putdown and 'mean' comedy. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Martha | 2/18/2010

    " Wonderfully entertaining. Who knew Lewis Carroll invented the word snark? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Leonard | 2/1/2010

    " Snark is a brief look at the snide, critical, and often cruel comments written and spoken by columnists and other pundits. Denby precisely defines the term and provides examples. He digs into the history of the topic and illustrates how it's used today. Useful for media consumers and critics. "

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About the Author

David Denby is a film critic and staff writer at the New Yorker. He has also served as film critic for the Atlantic Monthly, the Boston Phoenix, and New York magazine. His book on re-reading literary and political theory classics, Great Books: My Adventures with Homer, Rousseau, Woolf, and Other Indestructible Writers of the Western World, has been translated into nine languages. He and his wife live in New York City.

About the Narrator

William Dufris attended the University of Southern Maine in Portland-Gorham before pursuing a career in voice work in London and then the United States. He has won more than twenty AudioFile Earphones Awards, was voted one of the Best Voices at the End of the Century by AudioFile magazine, and won the prestigious Audie Award in 2012 for best nonfiction narration. He lives with his family in Maine.