Julio Cortázar, "The Canary Murder Case II"

translated from the Spanish by Steve Dolph (original title in English)


The Canary Murder Case II (from Último Round)

Es terrible, mi tía me invita a su cumpleaños, yo le compro un canario de regalo, llego y no hay nadie, mi almanaque es defectuoso, al volver el canario canta a chorros en el tranvía, los pasajeros entran en amok, le saco boleto al animal para que lo respeten, al bajarme le doy con la jaula en la cabeza a una señora que se vuelve toda dientes, llego a casa bañado en alpiste, mi mujer se ha hido con un escribano, caigo rígido en el zaguán y aplasto al canario, los vecinos claman por la ambulancia y se lo llevan en una tablita, me quedo toda la noche tirado en el zaguán comiéndome el alpiste y oyendo el teléfono en la sala, debe ser mi tía que llama y llama para que no vaya a olvidarme de su cumpleaños, elle siempre cuenta con mi regalo, pobre tía.



The Canary Murder Case II (from Último Round)

It’s terrible, my auntie invites me to her birthday, I get her a canary as a gift, I get there and there’s no one, my calendar is defective, on the way back the canary trills terribly in the tramcar, the passengers go nuts, I pay fare for the animal so they’ll respect it, getting off I bonk this broad on the head with the cage and she starts snarling, I get home showered in birdseed, my woman’s run off with a notary, I fall frozen stiff in the hall and crush the canary, the neighbors call for an ambulance and they take it away on this tiny board, I spend all night crumpled in the hall eating birdseed and hearing the telephone in the living room, probably my auntie calling and calling so I won’t forget her birthday, she always counts on my gift, poor auntie.


Julio Cortázar (1914-1984) was an Argentine intellectual, poet, storyteller, prankster, translator, novelist, essayist, you name it. He hated Perón and ended up exiling himself to Europe. He once said, “But it seems to me that with us style is also an ethical problem, a question of decency.” Último Round was published in 1969. To view an interview with Cortázar on Radiotelevisión Española in 1977 click here.


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