In an allegorical ramble, a reluctant storyteller, who has inherited his profession and a magical pouch full of stories from his father and grandfather, explores the meaning of his calling. Escaping from his Wise Old Mother, a ""scold,"" the Storyteller goes in quest of a horse; but his real quest seems to be for meaning. While encountering a Kulloo Makoo (which eats stories but can be made to regurgitate them), a Cat, an old woman who can carve wings for his horse and, most important, a Boy to serve as audience and apprentice, the Storyteller discusses, puns and ruminates, and begins to tell tales, musing on what makes a story (it must be told before it will be valued; it needs an ending; it may coincide with life); what detracts from it (too many words or a teller who laughs at his own jokes or makes the story boring); who owns stories, and how old ones compare to the newly invented. Lawson uses language effectively; her images are clear and forceful. Ironically, her story (as well as the Storyteller's stories within her story) lacks interest in its own right--the reader is not really involved in the Storyteller's quest except as a metaphorical construct. (And why is the art handed down only through the male lines?) This first book will amuse only the limited audience that enjoys puzzling over symbols.