Like Singer's shtetl tales, Narayan's latest news from the Indian village of Malgudi is immediately irresistible. In this 15th Malgudi work, the first sentences frog-march the reader into a corner of the Boardless Hotel, where the Talkative Man (""I have earned this title, I suppose, because I cannot contain myself"") begins to narrate the story of the impressive arrival and enforced disappearance of the handsome Dr. Rann, known to be working on a ""vital project"" for the UN. Dr. Rann is a rogue. The TM meets the obviously important Dr. Rann (he's dressed in a ""full suit"" and announces he's from Timbuktu) in the library. Eventually Dr. Rann will reveal some of his vital work--which is advancing the news that a little weed will eat up the world by the year 3000. Meanwhile, a very large lady, who is an officer of the Home Guard in Delhi and carries a small pistol, immobilizes the narrator hour after hour, in the railroad station, and tells her story of faithless love. The unsettling problem arises of not only keeping the husband and wife apart, but of also preventing Rann's seduction of the librarian's granddaughter. A truly satisfying solution is found; and after the tumult of Rann's public lecture, and after peaceful months pass, there's a concluding peroration by Mme. Rann. Really a long short story, but in a delightful postscript the author points out the pitfalls of ""blowing it up"" (this would involve a word processor, and he has even given up typing as a ""nuisance and a distraction""). Like the master storyteller he is, Narayan has the skill to transmute the fermenting complexities of human community into the simplest and purest and liveliest of entertainments.