When all is said and done, Mr. Amis and his readers should all be ready to make voluntary contributions to the Euthanasia Society although there are no suggestions to that effect here. This is a mercifully shorter book than the process of old age and dying and also a very literal view from the bottom -- scatological beyond the failure of man's functions in their most obvious orifices -- funny only to the degree which you can overlook discomfort -- at best acute in its projection of the worst of life which is yet to come. Grin or grimace if you will. The demise en scene is something called Tuppeny-hapenny Cottage managed -- as efficiently as possible -- by Adela Bastable who at 71 has only a gastric ulcer to contend with. Her brother Bernard has a game leg and a rotten character assisted no doubt by the fact that he has a fatal cancer (the others don't know this). And then there's Marigold, Adela's dear friend, becoming more and more forgetful -- Marigold who has her own version of the spoken language which includes "idionyms" like "drinkle-pinkle" or "kiddle-widdle" which is certainly sicky-icky. And Shorty, once Bernard's dear, dear friend, who does the housework when he's not altogether loaded, and a stroke-bound professor of Central European History. Their days are briefly cheered by two visits (Adela's grandchildren) rather than the local doctor who doesn't know what to say to any of them as he makes his dismal rounds. Ail prefatory to the calamities at the close -- willed and accidental. One of the self-defeating aspects of Mr. Amis' book -- if it is to be a commentary on the incompetence-incontinence of old age -- is that he has gathered together such an unsightly group of characters who must easily have been as unattractive at thirty or forty or fifty.