What's Happening is a serious, acceptable portrait of low- life in Greenwich Village. This is the way they really talk. Despite its seaminess, sex recitals and sometimes appalling dialogue, the novel never caters to the pornographic, never titillates. In fact, it can't. The author moralizes, intrudes with naive comments, overwrites, gives way grievously to fancy prose (beer becomes ""amber liquid""), and assumes the gravity of Tolstoy in his declining years. His story: a promiscuous girl, rooming with an even more promiscuous girl and with a young ex-Lesbian, goes through a series of one-night lovers until meeting her true love. She sheds the Village and goes Uptown to live with him for a year, but his jealousy and fear of being hurt by her separates them. She returns to the Village, then abandons it forever for Brooklyn. The Village is scanned with the thoroughness of Balzac, with every street and coffeehouse getting its due. Mr. Iannuzzi has a gift for capturing the unguarded moment behind a scene or speech, and for striking off instant characters. But he's so solemn as he bites the hand that bred him. Buyer beware.