yellow journalists

THIS IS A FINE READ: A tipster informed us earlier this week that he’d seen an advance copy of this Sunday’s New York Times Book Review riff on David Denby’s dumb book of lies. He referred to it as a “trashing.” Well the review is online now, and yes, it is very much a trashing: “And that, sir, is snark, society’s arch­enemy — making light fun of vulgar criminal robber barons who steal more in a month than Capone stole in a decade.” Thank god they gave it to Walter Kirn, who’s basically the best contributing critic for the Book Review and reads much like Anthony Lane, the good film critic for the New Yorker. [NYT]

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Jim Newell is Wonkette's beloved Capitol Hill Typing Demon. He joined Wonkette.com in 2007, left for some other dumb job in 2010, and proudly returned in 2012 as our "Senior Editor at Large." He lives in Washington and also writes for things such as The Guardian, the Manchester paper of liberals.

View all articles by Jim Newell

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74 comments

  1. Jukesgrrl

    How does one write snark about snark that’s about anti-snark that’s about snark? Would Dame Nooninghamshire know? She’s supposed to be a Professional Writer.

  2. ManchuCandidate

    What’s that I hear? Ffffffffsssst! It’s a pompous gas bag’s ego being deflated by a snarky review.

  3. anabellum

    i snark, therefore i am…

    my friend internet tells me this formulation is correct..[he speaks truth more often than Trotsky]..

    power is the target, is it not?…

  4. DustBowlBlues

    Okay, Jim–Is this what it’s come to? Name dropping hoity-toity critics?

    Nice to see said hoity-toity critic drop-kicking the tedious Denby into the oblivion to which he belongs. How boring the world would be if anyone paid a bit of attention to that self-important windbag. Now it’s time for her Noonington to join him.

    Boring, pompous and arrogant. Not to mention, oblivious to reality.

  5. Texan Bulldoggette

    Actually I was too distracted to read after “short of eating & achieving orgasm”…. Because, rally what else is there?

  6. PomPom

    I think we should have an AO Scott-David Denby deathmatch. AO Scott has a deadly left hook full of snarkiness.

  7. SayItWithWookies

    Denby accuses Sarah Palin of being snarky?! I have yet to hear her say anything intentionally funny, no matter how mean it was. Couldn’t Denby have just written a book whining about people he doesn’t like without attempting to couch it in terms of an imaginary social trend? No, of course not — his bright blue scrotum wouldn’t let him.

  8. Scandalabra

    My heart always sank when the New Yorker arrived in the PO box and the film reviews weren’t by Anthony Lane. Why? Because his backup/substitute was obvs born without the essential snark gene.

  9. PomPom

    [re=248580]SayItWithWookies[/re]: I think her “a mayor is a community organizer but, you know, with actual responsibilities” was snarky. It was that subcategory of snarky-idoitic that one rarely sees in the wild.

  10. Thegreatbacon

    You know, I didn’t think it was a very well-written review at all. There was an opportunity here to “hold forth,” and this guy just ran in circles and didn’t come to any point himself, much like the book’s lack of a concrete definition of snark. Also, this last sentence is one of the most convoluted and unnecessary I’ve read in a while: “One almost wonders if what he so deplores about what he calls “the hunting of the snark” is that, invariably — given his obtuseness about the necessity of irreverent laughter, even if it’s rude, unfair or lamebrained, in revealing or merely helping to abide perceived arrogance and fraudulence — someday the snark would come for books like his.”

    Book grade: Who cares
    Review grade: D

  11. facehead

    /snark off

    I don’t think there is a single line which eviscerates Denby, but overall it is an unflattering review. Putting it simply, if I read that review I would be far from interested in reading the book.

    /snark on

    Denby’s idea of marketing toilet paper in book form is pure genius!

  12. Canuckledragger

    I thought Denby was an insufferable, arrogant narcissistic prat without a single redeeming trait. But then I clicked on the link you provided elsewhere for Raymitheminx.

    Henceforth, I will refrain from dissing Denby, who can write his next book while sleeping on my couch if he wants, just so long as you never EVER fucking link to Raymitheselfobsessedtwat again.

    Fuck, I’ll even throw in a hundred bucks in Canuckistani Tire money and a couple of Beavertails.

    Deal?

  13. SayItWithWookies

    [re=248583]PomPom[/re]: I’d say that’s giving her (or her speechwriter) too much credit. That remark has the stamp of being written by two drunk frat boys inspired by an Everybody Loves Raymond marathon. Though it may have been the pinnacle of her humor, it’s still a molehill.

  14. bitchincamaro

    [re=248587]facehead[/re]: Kirn kills in the first sentence with “earnest”; no more effective kiss of death than that.

  15. shortsshortsshorts

    GET THAT MAN SOME WHORE DIAMONDS. THAT REVIEW IS VERY WELL WRITTEN.
    However, I will spend all of my money on Denby’s next book, “Fail. An Autobiography”

  16. kudzu

    This news lineup is so lame you guys must be stoned or just bored to death. Well, it’s Friday. Fuck it. I’m going to go get drunk.

  17. Lionel Hutz Esq.

    I did not see a single mention of Truck Nutz or Buttsex in the first paragraph, so I stopped reading as this was clearly a poorly written article.

  18. masterdebater

    Snark. That’s it? We just eliminate the sort of humor that Denby finds objectionable, and all will be right with America? Well, that seems like a perfectly reasonable request.

  19. Neilist

    “As a species of vicious contemporary humor, it is defined by Denby in many ways — so many, in fact, that the creature never materializes as anything more than a shadow on a wall that Denby keeps shooting at yet never hits.”

    A bit of a run-on sentence, true. But it works.

  20. Lazy Media

    They sought it with thimbles, they sought it with care
    They sought it with forks and hope
    They threatened its life with a railway share
    They charmed it with smiles and soap.

  21. slavojzizek

    Isn’t Kirn a pedophile (okay, teenageophile) who believes in going on about the importance for men of using the c-word?

  22. WagTehGod

    “F-!!!!!”
    -G. Charles Steiner

    (although I’m tickled to see my review is listed as Amazon’s most helpful review)

  23. Marlowe

    [re=248575]Texan Bulldoggette[/re]:
    I’m with TexasBulldogette:
    “He wants to correct and restrain, using scholarship and logic, perhaps the keenest, most reflexive, prehistoric and anarchic of simple human pleasures, short of eating or achieving orgasm.”

  24. assistant/atlas

    There were too many big words and long sentences in that review. God, it was like my IQ went up a couple points.

    THIS IS NOT WHY I VISIT WONKETTE!!1!

  25. S.Luggo

    “Whether laughter for the right reasons is even possible, given humor’s subversive, corrosive history, is a difficult philosophical question, of course, but Denby feels that it is.”

    We corrode, we corrode, we wear the bottoms of panties rolled.

    Henceforth, I shall read only the fart jokes of Aristophanes.

    BTW: Jim, you and Anthony Hope still dating?

  26. Tommmcatt

    [re=248630]Lazy Media[/re]:

    In the midst of the word he was trying to say,
    In the midst of his laughter and glee,
    He had softly and suddenly vanished away—
    For the Snark was a Boojum, you see.

  27. Trace

    Snark to Denby is like gays to the Republicans.

    Somehow, someway, it’s responsible for all the evil in the world.

  28. PsycGirl

    [re=248580]SayItWithWookies[/re]: I believe Denby confused “snarky” with “bitchy”. Bitchiness can be funny but usually is not.

    [re=248599]bitchincamaro[/re]: Completely true; that one word is damning in and of itself. Does anyone remember the Spy “Nice” issue?

  29. Dreamer

    Jim, you know I am a faithful foot solder of our Wonkette editors but I cannot understand this vendetta against this Denby character. Yes, he lied in his little book about Wonkette but for Allah’s sake let it go. Anyone who mocks Maureen Dowd cannot be all bad – that is all I’m gonna say about his topic.

  30. S.Luggo

    [re=248704]PsycGirl[/re]:
    Bitchiness is a feminine status putdown. E.g.:
    Layne: Giselle. Just, just look at Hillary’s helmet hair!
    Newell: OMG, it could stop a fleet of Triton missiles.

    Snark abjures the merely personal. E.g.:
    Layne: Giselle. Just, just look at Hillary’s helmet hair!
    Newell: OMG, it could stop a fleet of Triton missiles.

  31. DoctorCulturae

    [re=248704]PsycGirl[/re]: I don’t understand commentary on Spy. Geez, it died, what, 15 years ago? And Tom Wolfe? Au courant Davey-baby.

  32. snideinplainsight

    Oh, listen to him ‘“the legions of anguished, lost people on Web sites and the social networking site Facebook” who are “looking for a way to release fear.”’ Jebus could he be a little more drippy or patronizing?

    Blow me Denby! Blow evry Wonkettoid and Wonketta that ever snicked a snark!

  33. Dr Tobias Funke

    I love how amazon’s review of this shitbrick is 1 star and tagged with ‘trucknutz, douchebag, garbage, beastiliaty’

  34. Thegreatbacon

    [re=248592]Chet Kincaid[/re]: “Whether laughter for the right reasons is even possible, given humor’s subversive, corrosive history, is a difficult philosophical question, of course, but Denby feels that it is.” The sentence construction is so wrong it’s painful. The review is a D at best, beside the fact that there is entirely too little snark. The title should have been: DENBY GETS HIS TRUCKNUTZ IN A BUNCH OVER SNARK !!!!1!!

  35. S.Luggo

    [re=248707]Dreamer[/re]: Promise?

    David Denby condemns snark as a ruination of civil discourse, as if the former neutralizes the latter, and there is no room for both. But let‘s ask Voltaire, Jonathan Swift, and the ever subtle Mark Twain about that.

    If no Denby, frequently reviewed, pop-culture book on the subject of “snark” (a term which he defines only by example), I would say that Denby would not be worthy of more than a swat at a flea nipping an elephant’s posterior. But, so long as he gets press and/or a popular audience for his book, he deserves to be answered. [Add to my foregoing rant: my tea-and-crumpets discussion of the First Amendment and a buncha librul, hippie, free-speech, free-love, pro-jihadi, socialist parasite whine, too.]

    Dave Denby’s next mass-market tome: “Beany Babies and Kin: Against the Two Parent Family.”

  36. sanantonerose

    He wants to correct and restrain, using scholarship and logic, perhaps the keenest, most reflexive, prehistoric and anarchic of simple human pleasures, short of eating or achieving orgasm.

    I’ve never thought of ranking snark up there with eating and getting off, but yeah. Hell yeah! Give me Wonkette, chicken, and my silver bullet vibrator or give me death!

  37. S.Luggo

    [re=248742]sanantonerose[/re]: Only if subject to the laws of particle physics, e.g., finding spare change in Canadian dimes along with soiled lint and torn pieces of “Notices to Appear” in the bottom of your pockets each Sunday morning.

    Better: Meta-Satire.

  38. Lionel Hutz Esq.

    [re=248660]assistant/atlas[/re]: Don’t worry, we will return to Pandas, Buttsex and Republican Pedophilia shortly.

  39. Links

    “One almost wonders if what he so deplores about what he calls “the hunting of the snark” is that, invariably — given his obtuseness about the necessity of irreverent laughter, even if it’s rude, unfair or lamebrained, in revealing or merely helping to abide perceived arrogance and fraudulence — someday the snark would come for books like his.”

    That someday was yesterday, sir. “The snark” has already come for books like this, on the pages of a certain war blog.

  40. assistant/atlas

    [re=248725]Dr Tobias Funke[/re]: The top keywords for his book: snark (18), trucknutz (16), asshat (11), butthurt (11)
    bad (7), garbage (7), wonkette (7)

    And to the person who tagged it “ten pounds of crap in a five pound book” – WIN.

    Revenge is a dish best served with a side of the absurd….remind me to never anger Warblog Wonkette. I seriously love you guys also.

  41. phoebus

    seriously? i started reading wonkette a couple years ago. back then you were confident enough to ignore anyone who doubted you. that was awesome. this isn’t. fuck you guys, you’re picking on my dad, and its not his fault he’s old and disconnected. blaming on the old-and-used makes you all sound old-and-used yourselves.

  42. phoebus

    clarification: picking fights with editors that nobody cares about puts you in the same boat as those same editors. be nice to nobodies. pick on somebodies. have an effing brain.

  43. bitchincamaro

    [re=248780]phoebus[/re]: As much as I hate to admit it, Denby is hardly a “nobody”. He’s on my radio and in my mailbox, and my bookstore. Nobody asshats will always suck wind; Somebody asshats are fair game always.

  44. Peanut Inspector

    We who snark are ultimately without power. We see stupidity and meanness and incompetence in the world, and we are wise enough to know that there is not a damn thing we can do about it — other than casually note the Emperor’s lack of clothing.

  45. HuddledMass

    [re=248602]shortsshortsshorts[/re]: yay, ShortsX3 is in our midst once more!

    However, there is an infestation of freeper-something-trolls on the CNBC threads — someone call Orkin, Terminix, Ken Layne … they have not teh funny.

  46. DangerousLiberal

    Consider yourself, Mr. Denby, pwned. (Go look it up, ya dope). Why, if Tina Brown were still at the New Yorker….

  47. Bruno

    [re=248646]WagTehGod[/re]:

    Like “G. Charles Steiner” is his real name. What a poser. He’s afraid of you WagTehGod, very afraid.

    Check this out (the rest of the article is a bit tedious): “Upon closer inspection, I discovered that at some point yesterday afternoon and evening, some dear soul, looking upon the wreckage of the dogpile, took it upon himself to respond to every single one of those thirty-two reviews, chastising the one-stars and applauding mightily the perspicacity of those who had the good sense to give Snark the favorable hearing it deserves.”

    http://www.michaelberube.com/index.php/weblog/comments/1227/

  48. DemmeFatale

    Bummer for some of you youngsters never to have known “Spy” during its heyday of Trump (short-fingered vulgarian) bashing. Other targets were celebrities, plastic surgery, wealthy folks, and (sorry North Americans friends), Canada.

    Thank God for Wonkette!

  49. WagTehGod

    [re=248829]Bruno[/re]: It’s so cute how at the end he thinks he can make a difference. It’s obvious he never saw our EcoDriving award.

  50. 102415

    [re=248780]phoebus[/re]: After reading his review of “Slumdog Millionaire” I have to say he is a bland soapy dish of soup as a film critic. I’ll never be sorry for my review of his dumb book.Why should he get all the fun?

  51. PsycGirl

    [re=248715]DoctorCulturae[/re]: Walter Kirn’s review mentioned Spy and suddenly I forgot it died so long ago. There was an issue prompted by someone’s suggestion that they be “nice”, which belongs in the Snark Hall of Fame, wherever it is. I am returning to 2009 now.
    [re=248865]DemmeFatale[/re]: “The Donald”‘s wife was bashed to an equal degree, showing Spy’s essential evenhandedness,

  52. Judas Peckerwood

    No doubt that Dickby rues the day he fucked with Wonkette. Don’t worry Davester, we’ll let up once we’ve hounded you into an early grave.

  53. IceCreamEmpress

    fuck you guys, you’re picking on my dad

    Wow, sorry about the lost college fund and what-not. And that your mom is obsessed with her dog and her girlfriend.

    It must really, really suck to be one of the Schine-Denby kids. American sucker says what?

  54. Zorg

    Denby? Come the completion of the restoration, Denby will experience the fate of Robert Brasillach in 1945!

  55. sezme

    Sweet sweet slapdown. Somehow, I find it hard to appreciate getting scolded for irreverence in the face of corrupt power by the likes of Wormtail … er … Denby.

    [re=248865]DemmeFatale[/re]: Oh well, Graydon Carter is Canadian, so it’s all in the family.

  56. Mr Blifil

    “He wants to correct and restrain, using scholarship and logic, perhaps the keenest, most reflexive, prehistoric and anarchic of simple human pleasures, short of eating or achieving orgasm. The act of laughter, this would be.”

    I had to stop there, because I had to go somewhere and rub one out. I have no restraint, none.

  57. snarkopolitan

    Hello and Trucknutz, Wonkerrati,
    During the Presidential debates, I clung to Wonkette like a baby opossum. I couldn’t bear to hear it live; Wonkette had to feed me pre-snarked morsels. As Wonkette sustained me, so will I and have I faced the implacable G. Charles Steiner, that the name Wonkette may be unbesmirched.
    yours, Mrs. Polly

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