By Leigh Gallagher
I’ll keep this one short- this book is a good primer for people who haven’t been following the trend towards people moving out of the suburbs and into the city. It draws on lots of the classics of the genre- Suburban Nation, Suburgatory, The Geography of Nowhere, etc. It sums up the trends pretty well. It doesn’t have a ton of new information, so if you’re already into this sort of thing, I would say skip it.
Since I mentioned The Geography of Nowhere, I’m going to take a moment to grip about James Howard Kunstler- that guy needs Duncan Crary back on his podcast so he doesn’t go any further into crankville. In the past six months I’ve heard him say “I like to say I’m allergic to conspiracy theories”… and then bust out some conspiracy theory. I have a friend who is allergic to alcohol but it doesn’t stop him from drinking pretty much whenever. Maybe it’s time JHK admits to himself that he’s got a bit of Art Bell in him.
Also, Andres Duany, maybe the best known New Urbanist, comes off as kind of a douche in this book. At least Gallagher makes him seem like one.
I kind of wish I had a stronger opinion on suburbs, but I’ve never actually lived in one. I guess you could say I live in one now, but I’m in walking distance of my work in a big office building, so that seems like stretch. I don’t know suburban life. I know country life and city life and not much in between. But I’ll say it- I like that cities are getting better because developers are catering to the yuppies. I know some people complain about gentrification, but what’s the alternative? Staying shitty? Maybe I’m being glib, but I can’t imagine missing the hellhole cities of the 70s and 80s. Or indoor shopping malls. Or suburban tract housing. BARF.
There’s my review. I guess buy it if you want the short version, but I find the subject fascinating so this book felt like a diet version of something I’d regularly read.