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Late June 2020 was an extraordinary time to be reading Animal City. COVID-19, a zoonotic disease, had already killed around 130,000 people in the United States, with urban areas suffering the highest death rates. In New York City alone, 30,000 people had died.
For a very long time, writers have sneered at the suburbs. They have looked down on suburbanites for being materialistic, unimaginative, and boring. They have complained about the social and physical monotony of the suburban scene while deploring its individualism and lack of community.