Gregory Riding and Terry Service, foster brothers who loathe each other, are the central characters in Martin Amis's pungent novel, originally published in England in 1978. For Gregory, London is a gilded galaxy, an endless whirl of smart parties, tony art galleries, and easy conquests. Terry's life is altogether more squalid, marred by a history of nagging sexual failures and missed opportunities. Inexplicably, success suddenly smiles on Terry as Gregory plunges to subterranean depths. But it is Gregory's story that most engages the reader's sympathy. In this unusual novel Amis provides a verbal feast for connoisseurs of fine writing; the prose is at times dazzling. But beneath the surface brilliance lies a serious exploration of contemporary life and morals. Highly recommended. Laurence Hull, Cannon Memorial Lib., Concord, N.C.