A sweet, increasingly surreal fable, in which a Buenos Aires watchmaker, Lucio Bordenave, is reluctantly talked into committing his unstable, beautiful, and childless wife Diana to a mental hospital when, despite daily visits to a kennel, she just can't decide what kind of dog she'd like to own. Lucio's sister-in-law, hot for him, moves right in once Diana is out of the way, but she receives hardly any welcome; lonely and utterly confused, Lucio takes more solace from the German shepherd pup he has bought (also named Diana). When wife Diana is released from the asylum, she seems completely changed: placid, bland, accepting. But not until Lucio is committed to the very same hospital will he figure out what went on in there: a pair of crazy doctors has been conducting ""soul-transplants""--human to human, dog to human, human to dog. And somehow, the nutty, innocent happenings of Lucio's story do knit together. Bioy Casares, who co-authored with J. L. Borges Chronicles of Bustos Domecq, keeps a light hand on the controls; the fantastic events seem less momentous than the almost saintly likableness of Lucio, one of those people whom things happen to with a cockeyed vengeance. Levine's slangy, salt-of-the-earth translation helps to make this a shapely and appealing import.