Writing in a less linear fashion than usual, Knight (Why Do Birds?) plunges into the surreal in this novel replete with alien shoe salesmen, a deeply underground society of dentists, mafiosi and sly observations about appearances and reality on this planet. Wellington Stout, a sales manager specializing in ladies' undergarments, awakens in an Italian hospital to discover a bullet lodged in his skull. As a previously unknown planet appears near Earth, and craters open across North America, Stout's new third eye makes him the monkey-in-the-middle of a multidimensional contest for dominance of Earth, catapulting him from subterranean radioactive chambers to museums filled with hollow men, to the heart of an alien future. Anchoring the madcap plot is Stout's bedrock integrity, as the salesman stoically faces indignities ranging from suffering the banality of hospital bedpans to being force-fed hash brownies. Knight's observations about the human condition which dwell at length on the sociological and sartorial consequences of our sex organs are frequently dead-on, and the narrative abounds in wry moments. The chaotic nature of the plot and the emphasis on description over action may confuse some fans of old-style SF (including of Knight's own work), but others will find it happy evidence that, 41 years after the publication of his first novel, Knight can still surprise and delight.
Very interesting, perplexing, and at times, infuriating. Beautifully written as if a dream was narrated. Reminds me a bit of Phillip Dick.