A sometimes uneven collection of over 40 stories by Latin American women, demonstrating that magic realism is rather a shared response to the region's landscape and history than the exclusive property of male writers like Borges and GarcÃa MÃ¡rquez. Except for Isabel Allende's ""Two Words"" and Luisa Valenzuela's ""Country Carnival"" and ""The Legend of the Self-Sufficient Child,"" none of the stories has been previously published in the US. Arranged in seven groups with such common themes as ""Compulsive Dreamers,"" ""The Wild Mirrors,"" and ""Annunciations,"" the pieces tend to be more preoccupied with domestic than political themes, though Chilean Elizabeth Subercaseaux's ""Silendra"" and Uruguayan Christina Peri Rossi's ""The Annunciation"" are striking political allegories. Notable authors include: Maria Luisa Bombal, born in 1907, who writes of a magical world--her heroine in ""The Maria Griselda"" is so beautiful that even flogs are in love with her--that is defined by social conventions of an earlier time; and younger writers like Liliana Hecker and Angelica Gorodischer, whose stories not only have contemporary settings--the appliance-filled house of compulsive cleaner Daisy in Hecker's ""When Everything Shines"" and the murdering soap-opera addict in Gorodischer's ""The Perfect Married Woman""--but whose plots, however fantastical, have solid psychological bases. A few tales are sometimes strained in execution and concept, but mostly this felicitously translated collection is a welcome introduction to a wealth of hitherto unfamiliar talent.