September 12, 1977 12:00 PM

by Paul Theroux

This collection of 20 tales by the author of The Great Railway Bazaar makes a sort of Oriental Winesburg, Ohio out of a remote Malaysian village where a young American spends two years as consul. The time is post-Vietnam, but the consul’s agreeable stories are old-fashioned, ironic and occasionally gruesome. They are marred only by an occasional dumb remark, such as, “Truth is water.” Maybe it’s the tropical heat. (Houghton Mifflin, $8.95)

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