To the extent that there is American literature worth considering, American literature about the American suburbs has never been particularly edifying. John Updike’s “Rabbit” books flounder beneath a third person narrative voice too light, complacent, and tepid to render many details vividly or sharply. As such, it’s a voice of little long-term relevance, or of any relevance on a “world” level. Updike is generally, when he assays the suburbs, light literature about a realm darker and more ponderous then is usually supposed. The weight of American materialism, transposed onto a landscape freighted with expectations of complete (and naively imagined) placidity, creates an ambience of dullness charged (in a contradictory way) with menace and foreboding. Human life is not placid, but in the American suburbs, it’s supposed to be. So, the suburban trap is to ape placidity. When the charade is carried through in a time of great, national economic crisis, it becomes an expression of despair and self-parody. Despair and self-parody is what I always perceived in Cheltenham— its indigenous interior landscape. In 2011, as a national economic crisis coalesced and suburban casualties began to escalate, it was natural for me to look back and ponder, in elegiac mode.