Books: The Lower Depths

HEMLOCK AND AFTER (248 pp.)—Angus Wilson—Viking ($3).

Modern English novelists, like Japanese farmers, often cultivate small patches of ground for maximum yields. Angus Wilson, 39, does most of his digging in mildewing sections of the British middle class. In The Wrong Set, a batch of 13 craftsmanlike stories, he unearthed a nest of hypocrites, perverts and bores. In his first novel. Hemlock and After, he lifts a rock from more human vermin.

Wilson picks up his novelist hero, Bernard Sands, at a moment of pride and triumph preceding a fall. Sands, a Grand Old Man...

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