De Berniäres's prefab magic realism, first on display in The War of Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts (Feb. 1992), has another strenuous but hardly less ersatz workout in this successor, wherein a crusading philosophy professor turns mythic hero. Dionisio Vivo teaches at a South American university and writes fiery letters to the newspaper about the coca trade's implacable destructiveness. The druglords, and the comic-opera national government, pay no attention until Vivo attracts great public support and becomes something of a cult figure. They ultimately will get to Vivo by destroying his great ladylove, Anica; but since Vivo and everyone else in the book has access to metamorphosis and magic, his revenge is sovereign and unanswerable. As with the earlier book: If you'd never read Garc°a M†rquez, this might be charming; if you have, it merely seems forced. ``At last the time came for them to make the arduous journey to Valledupar, a city so frivolous that the natives hang pineapples on lemon trees just to confuse the tourists, and the same place that General Fuerte's donkey had once given birth to kittens.'' Not only Valledupar--this entire novel. Mechanically transposed and derivative stuff.