On Paradise Drive by David Brooks is a hilarious “comic sociology” work. This is not to say the topics he covers are not serious and thoughtful. Brooks starts off by looking at Americans in their “natural habitat. You see suburban guys at Home Depot doing that special manly, waddling walk that American men do in the presence of large amounts of lumber; super efficient ubermoms who chair school auctions; workaholic corporate types boarding planes on their cell phones in a panic.” Brooks clearly has his brand names down, coming up with witty coinages to describe all facets of American life. He devotes a chapter to the younger generation and college students and learning, it’s excellent. His conclusion, and thesis, is that Americans live in the “future tense,” always looking at the grand possibilities ahead of us resulting in a number of unique American habits. This book’s critics, and there are many, complain that Brooks’ constant joking and hyperbole get tiresome. And that his generalizations are at points sketchy. Maybe so. But this is a fun book that sheds interesting color and identifies all those little things we notice about life but never write down.
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