The Journals of Spalding Gray

In works such as Swimming to Cambodia, Spalding Gray turned the raw substance of his life into autobiographical monologues that poignantly balanced existential despair with mordant humor. But his journals, begun when Gray was 25, divulge even more about the man who seemingly left it all onstage, revealing an artist wildly ambivalent about his celebrity, whose protean depression would eventually lead him to commit suicide in 2004. Here, Nell Casey fills in the portrait of the man we came to love, but perhaps never really knew.

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…