THE CUTTER by Virgil Suarez (Ballantine: $7.95 paper; 212 pp.) . The author’s first novel was hailed as “compelling and ambitious” in Miami circles. This second novel can be similarly praised, ambition being a will rather than an achievement. Julian is a good boy in a bad place. He and his parents had tried to leave Communist Cuba. The adults were allowed to board the plane, but young Julian was forced to stay behind. He can’t forgive his parents for deserting him, but his dreams of escape never die. As people work him to exhaustion, as his grandmother dies, as girls make love to him, he seems to observe himself, imagining himself reacting, reaching for proper emotions. The narration is third-person, present-tense, creating both distance and immediacy.