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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
"Let's take a drive," exhorts comic sociologist-cum-journalist David Brooks in this delightful study of middle-class suburbia -- a sprawling, borderless frontier as far removed from the soulless literary terrain of John Cheever as the land of Oz. So we pile into the minivan (what else?) and cruise along; and as we move across the great expanse from hip semi-urban neighborhoods to exurbs and beyond -- past diverse cultural landscapes peppered with "lesbian dentists, Iranian McMansions, Korean megachurches," and more -- it soon becomes clear that we have left all those Stepford Wife stereotypes of conformity far behind. Once caught in a gravitational pull toward major cities, today's suburbs are free-floating decentralized zones, each with its own distinct identity.
Brooks makes a waggish tour guide. The same wit and humor that enlivened Bobos in Paradise (his delectable skewering of the "information age elite") is abundantly evident here. But beneath his sly lampooning of Trader Joe's, Banana Republic, über-moms, SUVs, and National Public Radio lurks serious sociological scholarship. We discover some startling truths about the great suburban dispersal and how middle-class America chooses to live at the start of the 21st century. Examining our relentless drive toward achievement, our materialism, and our attitudes toward work and family, Brooks uncovers what really lies at the heart of our restless national character: not -- as our detractors claim -- crass materialism or cosmic attention deficit disorder but rather our idealistic belief in the existence of a better future. Anne Markowski