Salvador Cristófaro On:
The Death of a Kangaroo by Juan Pablo Roncone
Juan Pablo Roncone is a precise, careful writer. Thus far he has only published a single story collection entitled Hermano ciervo (Brother Deer), from which ‘The Death of a Kangaroo’ is taken. A story about three young friends – two of whom are a couple – who go on summer vacation together to the south of Chile, as ‘The Death of a Kangaroo’ unfolds it builds from a quiet beginning to a crescendo of emotional and physical tension and harm. Like all good stories, the signs are all there right from the start but they’re subtle and go almost unnoticed. Right away we note that there’s something strange between the three of them. They’ve already spent a week together and while they’re putting their things in the truck in which they’re about to embark on the second half of their trip, certain actions and glances give rise to speculation: what’s really going on? Meanwhile it is reported on the news that an airplane transporting zoo animals has crashed in the forests of the south, close to where they’re planning on going, and the only survivor was a kangaroo. Thus the different plot elements align for the tragi-comic climax told in the concise, pointed style of the author, which establishes just the right tone. This story could be described as a kind of concise, Chilean road movie. ‘The Death of a Kangaroo’ is just a taste of the enormous potential of contemporary literature in Chile and an excellent example of Roncone’s measured prose.