Girls in Trucks

Sarah Walters was born into the prim and proper debutante class of South Carolina, but that's as close as she ever comes to white-gloved gentility. The heroine of Katie Crouch's debut novel, Girls in Trucks, is a salty-tongued rebel who slips the bonds of a girlhood of dance lessons to find freedom in the cold and baffling North. There, Sarah loses her accent, her values, and, in sometimes sad and often spectacular fashion, her way in life. She had planned on greatness and instead has to settle for survival. Here's Sarah, halfway through the book, self-aware and still defiant: "I have made many mistakes in my life so far, the biggest of which, according to my mother, was leaving the South. Never mind the fact that I managed to spend three good years pining after a cruel man, that I have let a once promising career in journalism go, that I drink too much and have come to like my pot. I wouldn't say that I'm an addict, but try and take it away, and swear to God, I'll bite you like a snake." The story caroms from man to man and job to job, as Sarah struggles to make sense of her life. Just as it seems Crouch has written herself into a corner, she'll switch scenes, push forward or backward in time, and give herself a clean slate. It's a tricky little dance, and unlike our heroine, Crouch is up to it. From start to finish, she makes smart choices that keep the chick from derailing this often lovely bit of lit.

April 21: " 'Pull' includes 'invitations to tea' at which one hears smiling reminders that a better life is available to people who stop talking about massacres..."

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.