Canción, by Eduardo Halfon:
The New York Review of Books published an excerpt of Eduardo Halfon's new book, Canción, which he worked on during his fellowship at the Institute.
“They called him Canción because he used to be a butcher. Not because he was a musician. Not because he was a singer (he couldn’t even sing). But because when he got out of jail in Puerto Barrios, where he’d been sent for holding up a gas station, he worked for a time in Doña Susana’s meat shop, in a run-down neighborhood of Guatemala City. They say he was a good butcher. Very kind with the ladies from the neighborhood who bought cuts of beef and sausages there. And his nickname, then, was nothing more than an alliteration between the words in Spanish for butcher (carnicero) and song (canción). Or at least that’s what some of his friends claimed. Others, however, said that he got his nickname thanks to his peculiar and melodic way of talking. And still others, perhaps the most intrepid ones, attributed it to his capricious nature of always confessing too much, of singing more than he should. His closest friends, his comrades, called him Ricardo. But his name was Percy. Percy Amílcar Jacobs Fernández. It was he—Percy, or Ricardo, or Canción—who a few years after working as a butcher kidnapped my grandfather.”