Thirty-one stories marked by humor, sarcasm and surrealism, chosen to reveal a ""shared esthetics and poetic sensitivity"" among contemporary Latin American women writers. There are some famous names here (Chile's Isabel Allende, Argentina's Luisa Valenzuela), but the real finds are stories by some lesser-knowns: Olga Orozco's ""The Midgets"" exposes the terror that can lurk at the heart of children's teasing and games; similarly, the baby-sitting older sister of Liliana Heker's ""Berkeley or Mariana of the Universe"" tortures little Mariana by parading her knowledge of philosophy and by asserting some very frightening claims; Ana Lydia Vega's ""Cloud Cover Caribbean"" puts three starving refugees from different countries on a makeshift boat bound for Miami, antagonistic to each other until they learn who the real enemy is. Many of the stories included are more ambitious in style than in content. Others are unsophisticated tales, often relying for resolution on the effects of madness or the supernatural. The feminist sentiments, which may have been quite daring in Latin America, are less so here, though Rosario Castellanos is clever in ""Culinary Lesson."" Zapata's introduction provides some perspective and includes clarification of the much-used (and misused) term ""magical realism."" The anthology covers much the same ground as the recently published Landscapes of a New Land (Agosin, Marjorie, ed.), but this one--with fewer prose poems, fragments, and experimental fictions--seems more entertaining and of greater interest to the general reader.