Like the heavy air itself, my underthoughts hung under a misting atmosphere of dread into which flickers of reasonableness tried to penetrate,"" Long before this, many unworthier underthoughts will have burned through the torporous haze. But then, what could be more languid than the life of the rich? Or splendid. Or sad. Or silly. As observed by seventeen-year-old Richard when he comes to stay with his relatives (""upwards of four hundred million""). His sere and reclusive uncle who collects Byton; or his aunt, ailing after an amputation, in her room from which she emerges occasionally to see her cercus grandiflora bloom (""How adorably exquisite,"" she murmurs). Or only son Max, a dashing depressive, who finally commits suicide since he too has fallen under the spell of Byron and is written off here as the victim of ""romantic dislocation,"" A problem the novel cannot survive even if it is set in the '20's. Mr. Horgan fondles his material with such mellifluous mawkishness.