callousness, shallowness, and ineptnessnof both characters and existences. Ms.nGeorge obviously perceives humor innthe cheapest sexual symbolism and findsncrude genital obsessions subtly amusing.ntjy comparison, Dale Loves Sophiento Death emerges aS’ the story of realnliving, breathing, bleeding people. Asnthe novel opens, the wife of a New Englandncollege professor still tends to seenlife in terms of the graffiti on a wall outsidentown which furnishes the title fornthe book. She sees life as relationshipsnfixed in amber at the high-school level,nwaiting for her to understand and dealnwith them, thus perfecting all that isnwrong in the present. Unlike the charactersnin the two other novels, though,nThe Old In & Outer,nThe Movie CriticsnDavid Thomson: Overexposures:nThe Crisis in American Filmmaking;nWilliam Morrow^ & Co.; New York.nRichard Schickel: Singled Out; ThenViking Press; New York.nby Gary S. VasilashnUetroit. More than anything else,nthe word immediately conjures up thenqualifier, “The Motor City.” Look atnany travel poster depicting the spot andnyou’ll see^a stylized tire or a SpartannModel-T. The most famous music toncome out of Detroit—from the likes ofnpre-L.A. Diana Ross and Stevie Wonder,nwhen his name was preceded with “Little”—isnknown as “TheMotown Sound.”nWhenever I ask a New Yorker how longnit takes him to get to work, the answernis always based on transit time to thentrain, train time, and the time requirednfor a brisk stroll to the office. The answernMr. Vasilash is associate editor o/ManufacturingnEngineering.nshe is not permitted to rest at this immaturenlevel. The author forces her toncome to terms with her many failuresnof love and understanding which havenbrought spiritual death rather than lifento those whose lives she has touched.nWhat went wrong in her teen romancenwith her brother’s best friend helps tontell her what is wrong in her marriage.nHer doctor father, hitherto stigmatizednas the callous deserter of her hardworkingndecorator mother, becomes thenonly man who can communicate withnher seriously disturbed son. At the endnof the novel, the husband comes to joinnhis family in Ohio, and it is clear thatnthis is the last time his wife will try tonuse her self-created time machine, andevice she no longer needs. Dnfrom a Detroiter is invariably based onnmileage; the questioner is expected tonknow the route and to be able to determinenthe typical elapsed time, and sincenpractically all adults drive, the answernis satisfactory. While other cities, suchnas Los Angeles, feature elaborate billboardsndepicting rock album coversnheightened with a 3-D effect, the mostnnoteworthy billboard in Detroit featuresnsomething resembling an odometer,nwhich advances in sync with U.S. autonproduction. In headier days, the numbersnspun like a Cadillac going 70 mphnon a freeway; in these days of “drive 55,”nthose going by the sign might as well benwatching a dashboard clock—a devicenwhich is notoriously inefficient.nThe OPEC oil price increases, thenbig-car mentality of Detroit auto execs,ngovernment regulations and the popularitynof foreign imports have almostnturned the Motor City into a giant annexnof the Henry Ford Museum. Many smallnbusinesses in the area that depended onntraffic were driven out of business asnpeople decided to stay home more often.nnnNotably, many gas stations have closednsince the mid-70’s. Some have turnedninto flower shops, others were razed tonbuild parking lots. And others have beennturned into porno movie theaters. Wherenyou could once get premium, regular,nyour windows washed and your oilnchecked, you can now view the likes ofnTalk Dirty to Me, Honey Doll Jones andnThe Girls of Mr. X.nUowntown Detroit theaters becamenmore inaccessible and outlying suburbannmalls offered a sense of safety andnshopping along with movies, so for annumber of years (before Detroit begannits attempt to cast itself as the RenaissancenCity), the city’s once-splendidnpicture palaces ran porno, Kung-Fu andnblacksploitation (a hybrid genre thatntraces its roots back to Shaft and SupernFly) films among the cracked plasternstatuary and trash-filled fountains.nDriveins were obvious targets of highngasoline prices. But Detroiters, havingna feeling of comfortable intimacy withntheir cars (e.g. a friend used to changenhis oil—needlessly—every week; henjust liked to work on his car, evennthough it didn’t need any work), oftennlike to be behind the wheel, so driveinsnare popular, even on winter nightsnwhen the lots look like snow-blownnwastelands. Still attendance fell, sonsome theater owners opened liquornstands on the premises to increase revennues. Many indoor theaters in the areanhave also started serving drinks in theirnsubdivided screening rooms; one I wasnrecently in obviously has something ofna wag on its staff, as a banner drapednabove a section of seats reads “CocktailnLoge.” And if the prospect of beernwith popcorn doesn’t get the folks in,nthen the $1.50 admission price for annevening presentation of a first-run filmncertainly will help. The bottom line fornmovie exhibitors in Detroit is simplynthat in a town where lines at the unemploymentncommission offices have renplaced those that once ringed movienhouses, popular taste must be addressednwith whatever cajolery (porno, booze,nMarch/April 1983n