“A less steadfast man might have taken to his heels, but Malgas stood firm. He even had the presence of mind not to confront the apparition directly. He sensed danger: he saw himself turned to stone … He watched the floating balustrade out of the corner of his eye. It shimmered, and shimmied, and emitted a halo of bright light. It faded, and was on the point of vanishing altogether, but, as Malgas’s heart skipped a beat, it glowed again with a new intensity, and appeared to stabilize and solidify somewhat. It grew a landing, it excreted a film of crimson linoleum, it oozed wax. Then it gave birth to a flight of stairs…”
A vacant patch of South African veld next to the comfortable, complacent Malgas household has been taken over by a mysterious, eccentric figure with “a plan.” Fashioning his tools out of recycled garbage, the stranger enlists Malgas’s help in clearing the land and planning his mansion. Slowly but inevitably, the stranger’s charm and the novel’s richly inventive language draws Malgas into “the plan” and he sees, feels and moves into the new building. Then, just as remorselessly, all that seemed solid begins to melt back into air.