Books: Butter on the Bow

GIRL, 20

by KINGSLEY AMIS

253 pages. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. $5.95.

Sir Roy Vandervane, 54, violinist, composer and conductor, is a familiar Amis character, a clowning nihilist with a middle finger ever at the ready. "Rage at absent, or largely imaginary foes," writes Amis, "was part of his life style."

Offsetting the energetic Vandervane in this novel is his friend Douglas Yandell, the 34-year-old narrator. Yandell, a competent, dull music critic, hangs on to his job at a London paper "if only to keep out the sort of little mountebank likely to do a turn at it between a spell on...

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