In this marvelously original book, three-time Pulitzer Prize finalist Leslie Savan offers fascinating insights into why we’re all talking the talk—Duh; Bring it on!; Bling; Whatever!—and what this reveals about America today. Savan traces the paths that phrases like these travel from obscure slang to pop stardom, selling everything from cars (ads for VWs, Mitsubishis, and Mercurys all pitch them as “no-brainer”s) to wars (finding WMD in Iraq was to be a “slam dunk”). Real people create these catchy phrases, but once media, politics, and businesses broadcast them, they burst out of our mouths as celebrity words, newly glamorous and powerful. Witty, fun, and full of thought-provoking stories about the origins of popular expressions, Slam Dunks and No-Brainers is for everyone who loves the mysteries of language.
About the Author
Leslie Savan wrote a column about advertising and commercial culture for The Village Voice for thirteen years. She was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in criticism in 1991, 1992, and 1997. In 1996 she was named one of "The Top Ten Media Heroes" by the Institute for Alternative Journalism. She has been a commentator for Fresh Air and has appeared on the ABC and CBS national newscasts, NPR, and The O'Reilly Factor. She has written for The New York Times, Time, The New Yorker, The Los Angeles Times, Mademoiselle, and Salon, among other publications. Her essays have been reprinted in numerous textbooks and anthologies. Her previous book, The Sponsored Life: Ads, TV, and American Culture, is a collection of her columns.
“A sharp . . . analysis of the phenomenon Savan calls pop language. . . . Inspired.” –The New York Times"Savvy and entertaining. . . . The range of influences on pop talk is astonishing." –The Seattle Times“A super-smart explanation of modern pop vocabulary . . . studded with observational gems and conversational jams.” –The Miami Herald"Entertaining. . . . From a crisp etymology of the word cool to an articulate defense of the word like. . . . A highly readable story about rhetoric and American culture." –Time Out New York