The Memory Chalet

His body failing due to the ravages of a degenerative motor neuron disease, his prodigious mind still intact, Tony Judt, in the months before his death on August 6, revisited his past to furnish a memory palace whose rooms are among the most bracing and resonant imaginative chambers I've entered this year. This posthumous volume is a remarkable legacy.

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…