Hern†ndez (1902-64) was a Uruguayan fabulist whose form was the bagatelle. Here, in a first English translation of his work, the improbable, the ridiculous, the non-computing all feed his little stories--admired by such more major talents as Garc°a M†rquez and Calvino (who contributes an introduction here). In 12 tales plus novella, there are lifelike dolls, hallways full of open parasols, a woman whose ``best friend'' is her balcony. Homely details not even close to central pull the rest of the narration toward them, come what may: ``When I was the one insinuating passionate desires--with words, now; clumsy words coming out to be heard like grotesquely shy men stepping out to dance for the first time--it was her nose that seemed to be listening and--since her eyes were almost shut--even looking at me. And when she leaned out the window to see what was going on in the street, it seemed her nose was waiting for the opera glasses that would slowly settle on it.'' But all the goofy knocks-akilter, inversions, doublings, and elongations aside, Hern†ndez's work has a preciousness and aestheticism that make it mostly a curiosity.