There’s a lot of stuff floating around already. It’s inevitable. When you stick your chin out, it’s going to get hit. That’s fine. It’s part of saying something, not just doing the old soft-shoe down to the bottom of the page. My idea was to get a conversation going. Pile on!

Finally: do you think your book will have any effect on the runaway train of snark?

I doubt it. Although we may be entering a different era. There’ve been a lot of lies over the past eight years, and maybe snark was one way of dealing with lies, by turning everything into a joke. But if we’re not going to be genuinely witty, which is hard, we might as well talk sense to each other. And perhaps an anti-snark tract will help in that respect. Maybe not. It’s the media juggernaut: you can comment as it goes by, but derail it? No.

James Marcus is the deputy editor of Harper’s Magazine. His next book, Glad to the Brink of Fear: A Portrait of Emerson in Eighteen Installments, will be published in 2015.