Literary Critic Studies Snooki's Lingo

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Ruth Franklin is an influential book critic and a senior editor at The New Republic. Nicole Polizzi, known to fans of MTV's Jersey Shore as Snooki, is a hard-drinking party girl, a proud "Guidette," a sometime political commentator, an avatar of the divided postmodern self, and possibly a harbinger of the end times. What do these women have in common? As of last week, they're both part of the world of letters: Snooki has signed a book deal with Simon & Schuster to write a novel called A Shore Thing.

The announcement prompted Franklin to craft an exegesis on the language of Jersey Shore, which she characterizes as "a kind of coded lingo that manages to be at once almost sub-literate and yet highly creative." Here's her explanation of some of the show's more common shibboleths:

"GTL" is the slogan coined by The Situation for the three pillars of his personal code of behavior: gym, tanning, and laundry ... A "grenade" is an ugly girl in a group of attractive women; according to Urban Dictionary, this charming term comes from the idea that one man will have to "fall on the grenade" so that the rest of the guys can score with the hotties. "Getting it in" is, well, what a chick who is DTF, or "down to fuck," will allow you to do.

Since Snooki is "among the least articulate of the show’s characters" and evidently "cannot complete a profanity-free sentence," Franklin doubts her novel will reach Nabokovian heights of invention. She's more curious about what it means for an artificial creation like Snooki, with a "persona... crafted by a show's editors and producers," to write "an apparently autobiographical novel." Such an endeavor, says Franklin, "threatens to shrink the idea of fiction itself to a vanishing point."

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