Books: Torch Song


by Scott Spencer Knopf;

418 pages; $10.95

Young love is a fanaticism inhabiting a region somewhere between the silly and the metaphysical. Scott Spencer understands the territory well: its shimmering landscapes, its enclosing solipsism, the profound and dippy magic by which children suddenly acquire passion. In Endless Love, the mother of one such adolescent says in rueful retrospect: "We felt as if we'd given a child permission to experiment with a little chemistry set only to find she was an undiscovered genius—solving ancient alchemical riddles, bonding once incompatible molecules, filling the cellar with luminous smoke."

In this third novel (after...

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