Total Eclipse of the Heart

In Scott Spencer's irresistible novel, love brings the world crashing down, and not just on the lovers

That's a photograph of a waterfall on the dust jacket of A Ship Made of Paper (Ecco; 352 pages), Scott Spencer's very fine new novel about wild love. But don't imagine it's there because his reckless lovers--one white, one black--find a happy ending at Niagara Falls. This is a book about love as a torrent, a force of nature that overwhelms families, harrows lives and lays waste to whole towns as it thunders through. Love may be our only hope, but when you put this book down--not an easy thing to do--you may wonder how civilization survives it.

Spencer has been...

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