Having displayed equal finesse with both short and long fiction (especially the sublime novel, Feast of Love), Charles Baxter here offers 23 allied stories detailing the lives of his sober and good-intentioned but still somewhat afflicted Midwesterners, crafting a sympathetic portrait of the region that's part Garrison Keillor, part Sherwood Anderson, and part Alfred Hitchcock.

April 19: "What you see first, after the starting gun's crack, is a column of bobbing runners, thousands of them, surging downhill..."

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…