At the beginning of "On Paradise Drive," David Brooks writes with urgency. His sentences pace back and forth across the page as he raises his arms in the air, asking his readers, "Don't you see what I see?"
By the end of the first chapter, his ink-stained hands have grabbed you by the shoulders. He stares you right in the eye, and it's impossible not to pay attention.
¤ "On Paradise Drive: How We Live Now (And Always Have) in the Future Tense" and "Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There" by David Brooks Keep reading Off the Beaten Path and Bud Werner Memorial Library have books written or recommended by the 2005 Seminars at Steamboat speakers: Recommended by Jim MacNeill "Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed" by Jared Diamond Recommended by John Kane "The New Prohibition: Voices of Dissent Challenge the Drug War" edited by Sheriff Bill Masters If you go ¤ Seminars at Steamboat: "Barbecue Grills and the Future of America: How Our Stratifying as a Society is Affecting Lifestyles and Politics" by The New York Times columnist David Brooks ¤ 5 p.m. Sunday ¤ Centennial Hall ¤ Free
But as the author settles into his book, the initial intensity subsides into a friendly, sarcastic banter.
He gets us to relax in our seats. He gets us laughing, and then he holds up a mirror.
We (Americans) are a restless people, he begins. "The simple fact is that Americans move around more than any other people on earth. In any given year, 16 percent of Americans move."
And we are ambitious people, he tells us, "who work feverishly and cram our lives so full."
In "On Paradise Drive," Brooks is a therapist more than a sociologist or a journalist. He sits with his notepad, analyzing who we are as a nation and why. All the while, he is one of us.
Brooks wanders from neighborhood to neighborhood packaging all the people he sees, however cynically, according to their beliefs and buying habits.
Like Douglas Coupland before him, Brooks has a gift for cultural catch phrases.
He breaks us down into nicknamed boxes by how we dress and what we buy. He points out in different ways early on, "people congregate into communities not so much on the basis of class but on the basis of what ideal we aspire to and each ideal state creates its own cultural climate zone."
On Sunday, Brooks will be in town to tell us more about ourselves as he presents "Barbecue Grills and the Future of Amer--ica: How Our Stratifying as a Society is Affecting Lifestyles and Politics."