Suburbs of Our Discontent

Christopher Hitchens in The Atlantic Monthly:

Book The thumbnail social history of the United States, as Godfrey Hodgson (the author of America in Our Time) once phrased it to me, is as follows: agrarian population moves as soon as it can to the cities, and then consummates the process by evacuating the cities for the suburbs. More Americans now live in the suburbs than anywhere else, and more do so by choice. Anachronisms of two kinds persist in respect of this phenomenon. The first is the apparently unshakable belief of political candidates that they will sound better, and appear more authentic, if they can claim to come from a small town (something we were almost spared this year, until the chiller from Wasilla). The second is the continued stern disapproval of anything “suburban” by the strategic majority of our country's intellectuals. The idiocy of rural life? If you must. The big city? All very well. Bohemia, or perhaps Paris or Prague? Yes indeed. The suburbs? No thank you.

The achievement of Richard Yates's Revolutionary Road was to anatomize the ills and woes of suburbia while simultaneously satirizing those suburbanites and others who thought that they themselves were too good for the 'burbs.

More here.