Snark : A Polemic in Seven Fits by David Denby

Snark as a form of communication has proliferated greatly in recent years, in part by the leveling field of the Internet, where anyone with a blog and an axe to snarkgrind can rage forth with taste or tastelessness against any chosen target, be it the celebrity du jour or any other online contributor whose views they don’t like.  The author expounds upon this latter-day proliferation of snark, which he defines as “nasty, knowing abuse” – a type of writing that takes the cruelest pop shots at its victims and tries to pass it off as humor.  He traces the origins of snark from ancient Athens and Rome and the literary barbs of Alexander Pope to its current state of expression, which established media and the rank amateur alike use as invective.  He explains how snark differs from satire or irony and is not afraid to criticize current snarkers, be they Maureen Dowd or ye olde deadbeat blogger with a grudge.  Snark is a short book (122 pages) and an interesting commentary on a common phenomena in the media today, albeit one with plenty of historical roots.

(William Hicks, Information Services)

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