Ever since, a long since, In the Time of Greenbloom Fielding has been one of the most accomplished British writers. While for the most part in a lighter vein here, these short stories, all very stylish, confirm his precise powers of observation -- cultures and the classes within them can be defined or dismissed with a phrase. Say in the initial piece, ""Figs in Spring,"" where a fortyish man loses his young girl with her confectionery shop background as she makes the ""climb down the ladder"" with the low type who has a ""religious locket half-buried in the hairs on his chest."" With regret, another young man (Gabriel) intones his hopeless romance just before the war With ""A Daughter of the Germans""; in ""The Young Bloods,"" an impregnable private club in Dublin is perfectly annotated with all its right (the pinstripe suit; brace of woodcock) and wrong (doctors; R.C.'s) elements. The title novella is the most substantial -- a sad, malevolent story of an aging man (""In middle life Maude knew that death was the question. Because he was too familiar with it he seldom asked it"") and his young harlot-queen, Mlle. Pixie, and two natives rancorously competing in the chill of an Egyptian tomb. This is sinister and brilliant. Others -- ""The Dear Demesne"" of a failed moment in the more defenseless later years, and the interconnected ""Kentish Triptych"" are lighter conversation pieces. At a rough guess, this should find the Kingsley Amis audience -- the stories are astute and their civilized virtues and pleasures are many.