I really thought this collection had two halves:
- the self-titled novella, with which the collection opens, which is something like One Hundred Years of Solitude ↗ with the doomed magic stripped away. This is a tour de force, everything from the slow and steady dawning of the world and the Colonel's place in it to the whip-crack ending.
- the short stories, which were a bit more hit-or-miss and felt like they hit many of the same tonal notes but with less grace and weight as the novella (let alone One Hundred Years of Solitude.)
It's a small collection, and you're not going to regret reading the whole thing, but I'd stop after the novella. It's a masterwork (even if it's not exactly what people associate with GGM).