Review: The Sprawl: Reconsidering the Weird American Suburbs

The Sprawl: Reconsidering the Weird American Suburbs
by Jason Diamond

The Sprawl is a mix of history, memoir and pop culture commentary on American Suburbia. It's a book that attempts a lot and succeeds only partially. All three approaches get their due - with a chapter on the history of suburbs, an excellent chapter on the music that has come out of the suburbs (as well as discussions about the movies made about them), and a lot of writing sprinkled throughout relating author Jason Diamond's own suburban youth.

Diamond is a Gen X author who grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. It's clear he has a place in his heart for "the suburbs" and he's done quite a bit of research to put this book together. It's an interesting enough read. As someone who spent three decades in the Chicago suburbs myself, I found Diamond's take on the individual Chicago suburbs to be quite interesting.

Unfortunately, there is more breadth than depth to this book and overall it doesn't really seem to go anywhere or to have any point of view to convey. This is evident in the last chapter as Diamond struggles with the question of whether he'd ever return to living in the suburbs (he currently lives in Brooklyn), and ultimately gives what I took as a half hearted cop out of an answer.

I rate The Sprawl 3 Stars ⭐⭐⭐ - I liked portions of this book. If you are a Gen Xer who grew up in the American suburbs you'll no doubt find things to like about this book too.

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