I first came across this novel at the Harvard bookstore where a snarky clerk had written on the Staff Picks comment card: “If you’ve not read this book or heard of Charles Baxter, then shame on you!” Apparently I respond well to guilt. I bought the book, loved it and have recommended it to anyone who has had trouble understanding the whoa/huh?/ouch! of love (yes, almost everyone I know). The novel’s beginning is overly self-conscious: Charles Baxter (the character) awakes in the middle of the night and, unable to fall back asleep, takes a walk and meets a neighbor, Bradley, who tells him the first of several tales of love. Luckily, that’s where the staginess ends. Baxter’s writing becomes dreamy, funny, and thoughtful. No shame in that.