The Insufferable Gaucho

If you've been meaning to read the Chilean novelist Roberto Bolaño, but have been daunted by the ambitions of his masterpieces The Savage Detectives and 2666, let me recommend this collection of seven playful prose pieces—stories, essays, and some writing falling in between—as a perfect invitation to his intriguing and marvelously idiosyncratic work.

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…