In his novel Canário (“Canary”) twenty-four-year-old Geraldo pushed his mother’s young lover out of the window during an argument and killed him. He has three years of his five-year prison sentence behind him, and he could be released for good behaviour. He just needs someone to apply for parole for him. Against all expectations, a lawyer really is interested in his case: the friend of the respected writer Alexandre, who proves to be Geraldo’s illegitimate father. Amélia, the young man’s mother, once had a brief affair with Alexandre. She never got back in contact with the author so as to protect his reputation. But now that she is suffering from cancer, she wants to reveal the identity of Geraldo’s father in the hope that he will take care of his son after her death.
The news of the existence of an illegitimate son shatters the fragile harmony in Alexandre’s family. His wife Maria Antónia feels it questions their marriage of over forty years, yet she does not have the strength to leave her husband. The author, whose only interests are himself and above all his own fame, sees the encounter with his unknown son as a way out of his increasingly pressing writer’s block. In his new and last book, he wants to tell the story of a writer whose illegitimate son is in jail. To familiarise himself with this material he has to meet Geraldo, sound him out, suck the blood of his real life.
In the end the young man who struggles desperately to find words, and the famous author who crystallises every experience into sentences on paper, finally do come together in a fatal embrace. After the conclusion of the novel, Geraldo – a canary transformed into a bird of prey, a beast let out of its cage – throws himself on his father from behind as he stands on a cliff, the two of them plunging to their death.
The text is a close-knit mesh of relationships, almost demanding a second reading to get to the bottom of it. One can’t help going back to the beginning and starting over again. And what better can one say about a book?