Simon & Schuster, $34.99 pb, 243 pp
A father sits on a couch that is set between the beds of his young sons, who must be eased into sleep with a story. The scene is illuminated by a lamp in the shape of the globe, which is as it should be, for he shows them his world through the simple patterns of these stories: his cherishing of the natural world; his insight into happy reversals of fortune; his humour. The father’s stories are spellbinding, reassuring the children and also their mother, who tells herself that no harm can come to this man in the middle of a tale. She is reminded of the old motif from the Thousand and One Nights, where the storyteller wards off death with a gripping narration.