Books: Mysterious Movers and Shakers a Maggot

by John Fowles; Little, Brown; 455 pages; $19.95

Fiction that is too tidy and finished, he believes, does not allow the reader an active enough role. "It's much better to leave gaps, which the reader will broach--one hopes."

Although Fowles is an atheist, the "tender sympathy" for the Shakers that underlies A Maggot is not as unlikely as it seems, for the author is drawn to all forms of dissent, whatever the orthodoxy. Although a novelist of established eminence, he chooses to be "unconnected" to conventional literary life: "I don't know other writers or read any literary magazines. I hate reviewing. I don't lecture or give readings. The novel...

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