Books: Ambitions Waking the Dead

by Scott Spencer Knopf; 396 pages; $17.95

Endless Love, Scott Spencer's third novel, produced the stuff of most writers' daydreams. Although not all reviewers loved its explicit portrayal of obsessive passion, the book sold well, developed a cult following among young people and some of their elders, and in 1981 was made into a bad but attention-getting movie starring Brooke Shields. Such pleasurable success also breeds pressure. Endless Love was not, as publishers like to announce, long awaited. Waking the Dead is.

To his credit, Spencer has not been content simply to repeat himself. True, a spooky erotic attachment threads its way through this tale. Narrator Fielding Pierce,...

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