In a book where none of the characters appealed to me, Joyce Carol Oates somehow wrote a book that I liked. Half-way through, I considered abandoning it because the misery, the utter hopelessness was too much and the characters living in the book were too annoying. I struggle with Michael Mulvaney, Sr. especially, but that is the intent of the author, I believe. Corinne, Patrick and Mule were all unreliable in their own way. I wish more time was spent with Marianne, but I was two-thirds through the book before she became a more frequent presence and we learned of her point of view (after the move). In the end, Joyce Carol Oates seems to say "what is a family if not the memories that follow each family member around?" Interesting.