Monday, March 14, 2005

# Posted 10:36 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

BOBOS IN PARADISE -- THE FIFTH ANNIVERSARY EDITION: It has been five years now since David Brooks made a latte-flavored splash with his first-ever book, a work of "comic sociology" entitled Bobos in Paradise. Although Brooks had a distinguished career before the publication of "Bobos", that book's success endowed him with the sort of national renown that won him a place in the inner sanctum of opinion journalism, i.e. the NY Times op-ed page.

For the benefit of the uninitiated, "Bobos" is short for "Bourgeois Bohemians", the name Brooks gives to the highly-educated, militantly non-conformist, increasingly-middle-aged upper-middle-class that has redefined the meaning of success in America.

Since Brooks' work is so well-known, there is no point in putting together one more run-of-the-mill book review. Rather, I want to ask how the passage of time has or may change our perceptions of the significance and enduring worth that "Bobos" has.

Five years later, I think it is fair to say that 95% of what Brooks had to say back then is still extremely valuable right now. Thus, naturally, what I'm going to write about is the other 5%.

Even though Brooks is a top-notch political journalist, the content of "Bobos" is almost entirely apolitical with the exception of its brief and final chapter. To a considerable extent, I think that this apolitical approach is responsible for the book's success.

The target audience for "Bobos" is the same highly-educated upper-middle-class that the book often satires. Although satire sometimes offends, this satire is the work of a loving insider who identifies himself as a Bobo in the very first pages of the book.

Had Brooks placed a greater emphasis on politics, his book might have failed to win over much of its target audience. Although Brooks often insists that there are many conservative Bobos as well, his work clearly describes a Blue State lifestyle. Had Brooks confronted his audience on political grounds, I doubt his readers would have been so receptive to a satire that cuts so deep regardless of its friendly demeanor.

This bit of speculation should not be taken as criticism of "Bobos", however, since one important purpose of the book is to argue, however subtly, that culture is becoming more important than politics.

To be continued...
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion

Comments: Post a Comment