Martin Amis’s new novel takes us to an Italian castle in 1970, where a bunch of collegiates convene to test out the tenets of the Sexual Revolution. The group consists of clever, feckless narrator Keith, his levelheaded girlfriend Lily, the mob-inducingly gorgeous Scheherazade, relentlessly amoral Gloria Beautyman, and Adriano—the showboating aristocrat who just happens to stand 4’10’’.

This is Martin Amis, so the magisterial turns of phrase and devastatingly acute observations keep the reader engaged, awed, humbled, and--finally--quiveringly envious. As always, Amis has plenty to say about a topic that few dare to touch. Nonetheless, plot is always a distant second to verbal pyrotechnics in Amis's world, and this proved to be something of an issue during the last sixty pages.

No, it’s not his best work, but it is still better than about ninety-nine per cent of everything I’ve read. Think of it as Jordan in '88: not his most illustrious season, but he could still throw down on anyone with haughty ease.