As in Oates's more naturalistic novels, the characters in Bellefleur are a tissue of obsessions and emotions: the mad grandfather Hiram Bellefleur, who has his skin turned into a drum after his death; the hedonistic Gideon who pursues selfish masculine pleasures while his wife Leah indulges her thirst for power by attempting to regain the lost Bellefleur lands; their psychic daughter Germaine; the recluse Jedediah; the convict and mass-murderer Jean-Pierre Bellefleur; the hulking brute Esau; the runaway genius Bromwell. Oates's canvas is wide, and it is difficult for the reader to...
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