Firmin : Adventures of a Metropolitan Lowlife Paperback
by Sam Savage
A darkly comic rat's tale of exile, unrequited love and the redemptive power of books. This is a novel told through the voice of a rat. Firmin is born in the basement of a ramshackle old bookstore but because he is the runt of the litter, he is forced to compete for food and ends up chewing on the books that surround him.
Firmin soon realizes his source of nourishment has endowed him with the ability to read and this discovery fills him with an insatiable hunger for literature and a very unratlike sense of the world and his place in it.
As Firmin navigates the shadowy streets of his decaying area, looking for understanding, his excitement, loneliness, fear, and self-consciousness become remarkably human and undeniably touching.
But the days of the bookshop and of the close community around it are numbered.
The area has been marked out for 'urban regeneration' and soon the faded glory of the bookshop, the small local theatre, the unique shops and small cafes will face the bulldozers and urban planners. Brilliantly original and richly allegorical, Firmin is brimming with charm and wistful longing for a world that understands the redemptive power of literature and treasures its seedy theaters, one-of-a-kind characters, and cluttered bookshops.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 240 pages, Illustrations
- Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
- Publication Date: 26/03/2009
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780753823392
Showing 1 - 5 of 5 reviews.
Review by bookmart
This runt of a rat learns to read by eating them and he also understand them! The story is about his life, initially in a bookshop, and the few humans he has contact with and the changing environment in the run down area in which he lives. Although this is a strange plot line the author makes it plausible, or at least plausible engough to make it a good read.
Review by pgmcc
Firmin is a rat who loves literature. This book is Firmin’s own account of his life, from his birth in the basement of a second-hand bookshop, through his development into a mature rat, to the reminiscences of his old age.Unusually for a rat, Firmin can read. The ability to read, he speculates, stems from his eating shreds of Finnegan’s Wake when he was a baby.The first chapter opens with an interesting discussion on the merits or otherwise of a good opening sentence, and how the problem of coming up with a good opening sentence has probably prevented the writing to many wonderful novels. He also postulates that many of the most famous “good opening sentences” have been the cause of great disappointment when what follows has failed to reach the standard of the opening words.Sam Savage’s use of a rat as narrator has given him the opportunity to present the thoughts, pressures and feelings of individuals in a range of circumstances. (I am aware that the inferences I draw at this point may have nothing to do with what the author intended, but these are some of the messages I took from the book, whether Mr. Savage knew he put them there or not.) Apart from the humour related to the concept of a literate rat living in a bookshop, there are deeper themes at play in Firmin.This book is about loneliness, self inspection, loss, disillusionment, relationships, and growing old. In the 230 pages of prose, Savage shows us life from the viewpoint of the runt of a litter, someone looked down upon by his siblings; a member of a community/race who is despised and shunned, unless they are in the company of more acceptable company; someone who is seen as a “cute” being, rather than an intelligent person with thoughts of his own; a person whose closest friends do not understand who he is.The midsection of the book was losing my interest until I saw what Savage was doing. He was brining the reader into the mind of the individual who has few friends; who is set apart from the average person by his intellect and physical differences; who finds it difficult to communicate with the majority of people, and/or rats, he encounters; a loner.Firmin is an easy to read, short novel, that prompts the reader to think about marginalised individuals, and consider how people relate to their family members, their friends, and the people they meet everyday. A worthwhile read.
Review by Gary_Green
I really enjoyed this tale about a rat born in a bookshop. Eating the stock, he develops an ability to read, a taste for literature, a desire to be human and to communicate with the humans that surround him. A story full of misunderstanding and love for those he wishes he could talk to.
Review by nicola26
Quite possibly the weirdest book I've ever come across. Tells the story of a literate mouse in a bookstore. Very odd, and rather ridiculous, but I adored it.
Review by classicmaiden
I almost gave this 5 stars, since I loved and enjoyed Firmin's passion for books and movies... But, there were some things that, ultimately, made me go for 4 stars; it's a sad book and there are aspects to the novel that I wasn't so fond of... but, if you like literary fiction or love books that incorporates a love for reading, then I thing you'll find things to like in this book.