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August172009

A Look Back: Pauline Kael, and David Denby's Snark

Filed under: The Squib Report   Tagged: ,

Martin Schneider writes:

My Facebook friend Michal Oleszczyk, who once reminded us about Pauline Kael's former apartment on the Upper West Side, yesterday pointed us in the direction of an unflinching reminiscence written by a fledgling film critic to whom Kael once showed unusual kindness. This is exactly the way I like to think of Kael, imperious but benevolent, possibly eccentric but supremely confident of her abilities and importance (check that closing line).

I really admire Ed Champion's willingness to grapple with the fundamental questions surrounding writing, and his defense of David Denby's Snark from several months ago certainly doesn't detract from that admiration. Back in the day, I was a FameTracker devotee of long standing (username: DerKommissar), so I respect the uses of snark while also harboring concern over its excesses. Either way, Denby's argument was almost certainly dismissed too quickly, and Champion's article is a useful corrective. Note that Choire Sicha and Adam Sternbergh took the time to respond to Champion in the comments.

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