The title novella and two stories are fairly recent; the rest, nine short pieces, date from the Fifties, when Garcia Marquez had not yet hit the stride of his famous fabulism and was working instead in a very French, very surrealist style, minutely and morbidly conscious of the deteriorating human body. These quivery pieces do, however, have some impact as a group--pointing up G-M's obsession with the child's question: Where do the dead go to? The newer work is far richer. "A Sea of Lost Time," best by far, offers a dazzling speculation. A poor seaside South American town becomes subject to "a compact fragrance that left no chink for any other odor of the past. . . . By dawn the smell was so pure that it was a pity even to breathe it." After an American philanthropist comes to town, bringing first boom then bust, the starving townspeople take to the sea in search of food; they go on heroic and impossibly long underwater swims, during which they encounter all the world's dead, floating peacefully--face up--at different depths. Luscious image clambers over luscious image in this story; it's tapestry-like. The title story is more in the One Hundred Years of Solitude manner--a girl's life-long prostitution and her mythical emancipation--and Garcia Marquez's many fans will love the wild leaps and strange qualities; to us they seemed slightly forced. But the touch is wholly characteristic: blood is "oily. . . shiny and green, like mint honey." A man shoots into clouds with a rifle to get it to rain. Poison comes in a birthday cream pie. Lovesick people can't tolerate bread. Ah. . . .