A novel with the same carefully exhaled quality of Gordimer's short stories -- less like storytelling than a conceptual painting. Visualize a symbolic black corpse posted at either end like the pillars of hell, and in between an expanse of bleached grasses and baked, repetitive hills -- the terrain of a white South African's consciousness. Mehring is a successful Johannesburger who has acquired a farm, whether for trysts with a radical woman, or as a tax write-off, or to indulge a common fantasy -- it doesn't matter. The woman has fled the country and the fiscal motive was never more than a cover for sexual pragmatism, and as for his weekend communion with the land, it is only the affinity of one brute nature for another. Mehring's cynicism allows him to be an honest conservative but precludes all human attachment. The political status quo, the veld, himself are locked into a single system of inertias which Gordimer prophecies shall suffer under one law, verified here by a post-diluvian vision and a judgment. . . . Instead of direct narrative and interpretation, there is a density of implication which makes for resistant reading but which nonetheless demonstrates, once again and beyond question, Gordimer's art.