Garcia Marquez returns to stir the dust of Macondo, his personal Caribbean fiefdom, which God and the banana company have apparently "declared unnecessary and thrown into a corner." In the long title story the rickety, crotchety Colonel rises like Antigone to bury the town's nemesis, a mysterious French doctor-hermit who for some reason fed on grass and refused to treat the wounded in an obscure civil fracas. Tantalizing questions are planted in three alternating narratives (the Colonel has dragged in his daughter and grandson, for safety in numbers); but while the reader waits for clues to knit and the crunch to come, the story unravels in lost threads, irrelevancies and ritual farce. So it goes in Macondo, and elsewhere with sharper focus in two alleged fantasies for children -- wry parables for adults -- about equally torpid villages and their peculiar guests: one "the handsomest drowned man in the world," and the other either a decrepit, incontinent angel or an old Norwegian seaman with wings. They're received without any great flurry, but every unsettled mote has a strange luminous familiarity. The author's imagination, as always, is a closetful of wonders, and Gregory Rabassa's translation, as before, is virtually invisible.