Books: Anglo-Saxon Platitudes

LATE CALL by Angus Wilson. 316 pages. Viking. $4.95.

In case of dire need, when characters fail to move and ideas remain hopelessly mired, many an author falls back on a reliable device. He hauls his characters (and the reader) into church, and there, cloaked in clerical robes, delivers a sermon that sets everybody straight on what the novel is about. By extraordinary coincidence, literary sermons are always marvelously germane: no hero-wretch taken in adultery is ever made to sit through a discourse on the nature of the Holy Ghost.

In the case of Angus Wilson's latest novel, the need is dire indeed....

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