Books: Antimacassar


by Joyce Carol Oates

Dutton; 615 pages; $16.95

"Human kind cannot bear very much reality," T.S. Eliot observed. Evidently, neither can many prominent novelists. An increasing number are now in flight from the everyday world they used to chronicle. In his latest novel, God's Grace, Bernard Malamud conceived of a latter-day Noah, adrift on an ark. Doris Lessing has taken an apparently irreversible leap into outer space with her multivolume chronicle of "galactic empires." Now Joyce Carol Oates has again wandered off into the never-never land of the neo-gothic romance. In...

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