Books: Animal Crackers

THE OLD MEN AT THE ZOO (352 pp.)—Angus Wilson—Viking ($4.50).

When a writer not known to have been guilty of science fiction sets his novel in the 1970s, the reader knows that a message is coming, probably on wings of allegory. British Novelist Angus Wilson, who has until now been content to annotate skillfully the thesis that people are unbelievably nasty (Anglo-Saxon Attitudes), sets the time of his new novel halfway between now and 1984, and the place is the London Zoo. Only a Symbol Simon could fail to read a message here.

But, oddly enough, the harder one looks, the blurrier the...

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