I'm reading them, the National Award-winning early novel by Joyce Carol Oates. It's oddly melodramatic (get a load of the cornball paperback cover), yet it's also mesmerizing.
In style and substance, it has a naturalist quality like novels by Zola and Frank Norris.
Since reading Oates' journal, I decided to tackle more of her fiction. I'm going to read probably about six or seven of her novels in chronological order to get a sense of her growth as a writer.
Here's a clip of JCO talking about novel writing. I like what she says about characters--as well as about perseverance.