Exurbia Revisited

Exurbia Revisited

THE EXURBANITES, by A. C. Spectorsky. Lippincott. $3.95.

I looked up recently after a sojourn abroad to find that a new word had sneaked into the language while my back was turned, like the 8:55 crawling into the station at Weehawken. The word is exurbanite, and unlike the West Shore Railroad it is probably here to stay, since it fulfills what the social workers call an unmet need. Its coiner, A. C. Spectorsky, like Sinclair Lewis before him, has used it to title his book.

Mr. Spectorsky’s The Exurbanites is both a good and an exasperating book. It is good because it is a pioneering investigation into the mores of the new middle class who have spilled out of their city apartments into the country areas beyond the suburbs and who have become commuters but remain big-city types. Mr. Spectorsky casts a wide net and inevitably comes up with many an interesting specimen. His territory includes Bucks County (Pa.), Nassau, Westchester and Rockland Counties (N. Y.), and Fairfield County (Conn.), which means that he has under examination a variety of New York City-based salaryearners, ranging from $75,000 a year network executives close to the seat of real power if not actually warming it themselves, downwards to impecunious young agency men desperately anxious to look as though they are on the way up. Since New York is the center of the “communications” industry, the exurbanites are inevitably associated with it in one way or another.