Books: Bitter Sweets

A collection of gleefully misanthropic stories

Martin Amis' Heavy Water and Other Stories (Harmony Books; 208 pages; $21) is a collection of nine short fictions, wildly diverse but related by a gleeful misanthropy that has made the British author one of the most unlikable satirists of his generation. And one of the funniest.

A London-based, bicontinental celebrity, Amis is familiar with customs on both sides of the Atlantic. His sharp eyes and ears are unforgiving of pretense and shortcomings, which appear to include about every activity of his species. Our pathetic preoccupations with sex are always good for a yuk. Let Me Count the Times is about...

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