Malamud excels with visiblity.
A character is not simply a name on the page with a few lines of dialogue following. Instead Malamud uses themes and imagery to create an extremely visible experience for the reader. He is very consistent with his imagery through the entire book.
For example, Helen Bober is described with images of flowers throughout the book. The first time Frank spies on Helen in the shower, he notices her “ass like a flower” and observes that she pulls the “flowered plastic curtain around her.” Earlier in the novel, Frank sees her underwear drying in the backyard. Malamud describes them as “flower-like.” These early references to Helen as a flower, insinuate a possibility for Helen and Frank. Flowers take time to bloom and come in the spring. Since it is winter in this part of the novel, these flower metaphors foreshadow that something will grow between Helen and Frank. Also, they create the image of Helen as a girl still transitioning into a woman, blossoming into a woman.
By using, imagery Malamud is able to develop the characters before the reader’s eyes.