YELLOW JOURNALISTS  5:42 pm February 20, 2009

by Jim Newell

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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Jukesgrrl February 20, 2009 at 5:47 pm

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.

ManchuCandidate February 20, 2009 at 5:53 pm

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

chascates February 20, 2009 at 5:56 pm

He’s Tom Friedman Lite and that’s pretty light.

anabellum February 20, 2009 at 6:04 pm

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?…

DustBowlBlues February 20, 2009 at 6:04 pm

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.

Texan Bulldoggette February 20, 2009 at 6:06 pm

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

PomPom February 20, 2009 at 6:09 pm

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

Joshua Norton February 20, 2009 at 6:10 pm

We are not amused.

SayItWithWookies February 20, 2009 at 6:10 pm

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.

Scandalabra February 20, 2009 at 6:11 pm

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.

PomPom February 20, 2009 at 6:12 pm

[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.

Thegreatbacon February 20, 2009 at 6:14 pm

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

facehead February 20, 2009 at 6:16 pm

/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!

Canuckledragger February 20, 2009 at 6:19 pm

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.


Chet Kincaid February 20, 2009 at 6:20 pm

Wrong about the review. Right about the final sentence.

SayItWithWookies February 20, 2009 at 6:27 pm

[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.

bitchincamaro February 20, 2009 at 6:30 pm

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

Vanity Smurf February 20, 2009 at 6:33 pm

Does this mean everybody at Wonkette is no longer female?

shortsshortsshorts February 20, 2009 at 6:33 pm

However, I will spend all of my money on Denby’s next book, “Fail. An Autobiography”

kudzu February 20, 2009 at 6:33 pm

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.

Lionel Hutz Esq. February 20, 2009 at 6:37 pm

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.

masterdebater February 20, 2009 at 6:48 pm

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.

Neilist February 20, 2009 at 6:53 pm

“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.

Lazy Media February 20, 2009 at 6:57 pm

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.

slavojzizek February 20, 2009 at 7:13 pm

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

LeslieBee February 20, 2009 at 7:21 pm

I wouldn’t want to live in a world without snark.

WagTehGod February 20, 2009 at 7:22 pm

-G. Charles Steiner

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

Marlowe February 20, 2009 at 7:35 pm

[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.”

WhatTheHeck February 20, 2009 at 7:38 pm

Place an “s” in front of “laughter” and you’ve got snark.

assistant/atlas February 20, 2009 at 7:39 pm

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


S.Luggo February 20, 2009 at 7:43 pm

“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?

Tommmcatt February 20, 2009 at 7:47 pm

[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.

Trace February 20, 2009 at 8:08 pm

Snark to Denby is like gays to the Republicans.

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

PsycGirl February 20, 2009 at 9:29 pm

[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?

Dreamer February 20, 2009 at 9:44 pm

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.

S.Luggo February 20, 2009 at 10:06 pm

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.

DoctorCulturae February 20, 2009 at 10:15 pm

[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.

snideinplainsight February 20, 2009 at 10:33 pm

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!

Dr Tobias Funke February 20, 2009 at 10:47 pm

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

nestor February 20, 2009 at 11:39 pm

I tried to read it but there were no dick jokes, so, yeah fuck denby. also

Thegreatbacon February 20, 2009 at 11:44 pm

[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!!

S.Luggo February 20, 2009 at 11:45 pm

[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.”

sanantonerose February 20, 2009 at 11:55 pm

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!

sanantonerose February 20, 2009 at 11:57 pm

Could snark be considered micro-satire?

S.Luggo February 21, 2009 at 12:28 am

[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.

Lionel Hutz Esq. February 21, 2009 at 1:28 am

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

sanantonerose February 21, 2009 at 1:39 am

[re=248750]S.Luggo[/re]: Agreed!

Links February 21, 2009 at 1:59 am

“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.

assistant/atlas February 21, 2009 at 3:14 am

[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.

phoebus February 21, 2009 at 3:29 am

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.

phoebus February 21, 2009 at 3:34 am

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.

ericblair February 21, 2009 at 6:46 am

I’ve been in love with Walter Kirn for years…

Terry February 21, 2009 at 9:12 am


Oh, please please please, can this be his next cover jacket photo?

llyn February 21, 2009 at 9:15 am

[re=248664]S.Luggo[/re]: Bravo, bravo

PerhapsSo February 21, 2009 at 9:19 am

[re=248707]Dreamer[/re]: Let it go? You, sir, do not understand the nature of a WARBLOG!!!!!!!!

bitchincamaro February 21, 2009 at 9:54 am

[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.

Peanut Inspector February 21, 2009 at 10:02 am

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.

HuddledMass February 21, 2009 at 10:47 am

[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.

DangerousLiberal February 21, 2009 at 11:39 am

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

Bruno February 21, 2009 at 12:52 pm


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.”

DemmeFatale February 21, 2009 at 3:35 pm

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!

WagTehGod February 21, 2009 at 7:17 pm

[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.

Hagar77 February 21, 2009 at 9:14 pm

Therefore never send to know for whom the snark rolls; it rolls for thee, Denby. Also.

102415 February 21, 2009 at 9:49 pm

[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?

Panderfinder2009 February 21, 2009 at 10:13 pm

who gave denby the blingee? now THAT is snarky!

PsycGirl February 21, 2009 at 11:06 pm

[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,

Judas Peckerwood February 21, 2009 at 11:46 pm

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.

IceCreamEmpress February 21, 2009 at 11:56 pm

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?

Zorg February 22, 2009 at 3:30 am

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

sezme February 22, 2009 at 2:10 pm

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.

Mr Blifil February 22, 2009 at 5:10 pm

“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.

dogscantlookup February 23, 2009 at 12:01 am

Remember the Maine!

snarkopolitan February 23, 2009 at 2:06 am

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

TGY February 23, 2009 at 8:56 am

[re=248750]S.Luggo[/re]: I never meta-satire I didn’t like.

Uh, Denby who?

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