The word “snob” is thought to be an insult to most people. However, the new book The Rock Snob’s Dictionary: An Essential Lexicon of Rockological Knowledge delights in its own conceit. The book is the brainchild of two writers and editors, David Kamp and Steven Daly. Kamp and Daly have acquired a wealth of rock snob knowledge working for popular magazines such as GQ, Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone.
Films such as High Fidelity celebrate rock snobbery and its proponents. The “snob” comes from all forms and venues. Movie snobs, pop culture snobs and sports snobs claim expertise in their area of interest. The Rock Snob’s Dictionary explores and defines all things that are the accumulated facts of the average music know-it-all, even defining a rock snob as a ” term for the sort of pop connoisseur for whom the actual enjoyment of music is but a side dish to the accumulation of arcane knowledge about it.”
For those who only dabble in the world of pointless pop culture tidbits, The Rock Snob’s Dictionary will not be the sort of book that is an enjoyable read. But for those with an insatiable hunger for all things music, the book is a dream. The book layout is in the form of a standard dictionary. A word or person will be boldly listed with information about them, sometimes an accompanying graphic and often the term used in sentence form. One example is the word “skronk,” defined as a nonsense critic term popularized by New York Time’s Robert Palmer as a dissonant guitar sound.
Indie music lovers will thrive on the dialect of the professional snobs. The book delves into all bands, singers and icons that always remained right below the radar and praises them for their talents. A page even distinguishes real rock snob causes from fraudulent ones often mistaken for authentic. The worthwhile includes Nick Drake and Television, while the frauds include the band Badfinger, and The Paisley Underground scene.
The Rock Snob’s Dictionary contains several pages of asides from the standard defined terms. These pages explore topics such as “The Rock Snob Filmography,” “The Snob Cheat Sheet For Confusing Similarities” and “The Rock Snob Hall of Fame.” Famous snobs include the Beastie Boys, Elvis Costello, Cameron Crowe and Martin Scorsese, each hailed for their knowledge and understanding of the secret world of rock snobbery. Crowe and Scorsese are praised for their use of particular underground favorites in their films.
The finale of the book offers a “Rock Snob Visual Quiz” to test the reader’s level of rockological knowledge. The book may take several reads in order to pass the test, but it is a worthwhile journey through the lesser–known bands and facts of the rock world.
The book, while fun and easy to read and navigate, is perhaps a bit too obscure for the non-rock snob. Rock enthusiasts, lovers and even those who just desire to acquire the impossible answers for Trivial Pursuit will enjoy absorbing all facets of the novel.
Grade: B+ Broadway Books