Even the names of the characters add to the oddity in the air of the narrative: Pilgrim Dusmano, Aubry Pim, Cyrus Evenhand, Howard Praise, Rhinestone Suderman, Noah Zontik, Mary Morey and many more.
The protagonist (Dusmano) is an unlikeable political villain, which makes for unpleasant reading sometimes. Then again, the lampooning of media-manipulated spin of political-celebrity identity is some of the most enjoyably acerbic I've ever seen. There are Media Lords and cults of personality and at one point a meteorological Hand of Heaven pointing down at the political candidate, which has been contracted in advance. This manufactured divine approval is a central motif of the novel. It's a viciously satirical study of the intersection not only of media and politics, but also of theologies, both bogus and true.
To swoop it all in! That would be the last great commercial stroke for Pilgrim Dusmano before leaving the world. This would be the real final pleasure, a break-bone and blood-suck pleasure. The red joy of it, gathering in all the fine property with its long roots with bits of flesh still clinging to them, would go far to nourish even the parallel Dusmanos on alternate worlds or aspects. It was a corporate good, really (p. 89).
It's not all dialogue and terminology and commentary, of course (though there's a ton, which is often the case in Lafferty). Vivid (but usually brief) scenes of action are furnished now and again as well:
The scarf that Pilgrim had been twisting in his hands now overflowed or exploded into a mantle or a cloak. Arrayed in this, Pilgrim went right through the walls of the Prismatic Room and the Personage Club in incipient flight. Noah Zontik stepped to a window and watched Pilgrim ascend the incandescent blue air of the outdoors in slanting, soaring flight. He had a finesse beyond that of any bird. A bird doesn't understand how to pose in the air, how to get the most from his natural lines, how to live a lyric in quick stanzas of flight. Pilgrim covered half a city in the ticking off of a dozen seconds. It was perfection... Pilgrim Dusmano, halfway across town, descended from his flight into the interior of an unspecified house. He quickly killed a startled man there.
"A bit casual, was it not?" the victim rasped with his dying breath (p. 24).
Or witness a snippet of the boar hunt that takes place as part of the festivities on Hieronymous Bosch Day in one alternate world:
Parrots were like flights of fat green arrows in the air. Dogs had a catchy bark on every gasping breath... But the present and embattled boar wheeled again and killed several of the harrying peasant girls and lads. It left them awkwardly broken in the sunny grass. The boar coursed again, and it foamed, not with weariness, but with fury.
Lorica, on a steep bay horse, closed in on the boar and let his horse overrun itself and become impaled on the wheeling boar. At the moment of overrunning, Lorica's lance went into the boar in snout and mouth and throat, but the bogus-stone lance head did not touch the boar brain in any way. That animal, disdaining even to notice the lance, was into the horse with long tusks, richly and redly into the belly; and it raised horse and rider high into the air as it reared on giant bristled hams and small feet (152-153).
Foremost of the threats was a hulking apelike creature that the polymorph saw high ahead. (This was all by firelight, there being no sun in the iron sky, so the seeing and the seeming ran together.) The ape-thing was moving down the terrible and steep path toward the three climbers. It was coming fast enough to intercept them at the Narrow Corner. The path was fearfully narrow even where the three climbed it. The ariel had her crest drooping and smoking; the dog had his singed tail between his legs; the polymorph himself had teeth in his heart that crunched it and gnawed it away (p. 123).
Oh heck, there's even a bit of loveliness thrown in here and there:
She was freckled and unaccountably brilliant. She was dappled and sunbeamed. She was daylight itself, freckled daylight with clouds roiling up behind her (p. 150).
I really can't begin to convey how chock full of delightfully inventive jargon and mind-bending ontology this novel is. It simultaneously hurts and thrills the brain. You often feel as some characters are early on described as feeling: 'There was a bit of horror gnawing at them in the area there, but also some ultra-purple fun' (p. 10).
I leave you with a final sample of the visceral carnival ontological chatter that bristles throughout the book:
Let me tell you a little bit more about the Prime World of prime people, Pilgrim. It is the uninfused world, the grubby world, the spiritualist world, the quack world, the Fortean world. That world is real, and all others are shadows of it. You say this, but you are afraid to mean it, and you are afraid to acknowledge yourself a citizen of it. But your only alternative is to own yourself to be a reflected and not a real person. On Prime World, fish and rocks and blood do indeed fall on the earth out of low and stationary skies. For these are stale skies and do not turn. One can reach those skies with stones thrown by a ballista, and such shots will bring other stones falling in showers onto prime earth. Everything moves very slowly on prime, like objects moved by poltergeists. It is like things moving underwater. It is things moving in prime atmosphere and the reek and heaviness of it. There are vulgar shouts out of that lowering sky. Why not? There are giants living up there, dimwit giants who are the original people. What, Pilgrim - would you swallow only half a camel? And what will you do with the rest of it? (p. 24).