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1 Beaverton Literature- A to Z

Firmin: Adventures of a Metropolitan Lowlife

by

Firmin: Adventures of a Metropolitan Lowlife Cover

ISBN13: 9781566891813
ISBN10: 1566891817
Condition: Standard
All Product Details

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Awards

The Rooster 2007 Morning News Tournament of Books Nominee

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

"I had always imagined that my life story...would have a great first line: something like Nabokov's 'Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins;' or if I could not do lyric, then something sweeping like Tolstoy's 'All happy families are alike, but every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.'...When it comes to openers, though, the best in my view has to be the first line of Ford Madox Ford's The Good Soldier: 'This is the saddest story I have ever heard.'"

So begins the remarkable tale of Firmin the rat. Born in a bookstore in a blighted 1960's Boston neighborhood, Firmin miraculously learns how to read by digesting his nest of books. Alienated from his family and unable to communicate with the humans he loves, Firmin quickly realizes that a literate rat is a lonely rat.

Following a harrowing misunderstanding with his hero, the bookseller, Firmin begins to risk the dangers of Scollay Square, finding solace in the Lovelies of the burlesque cinema. Finally adopted by a down-on-his-luck science fiction writer, the tide begins to turn, but soon they both face homelessness when the wrecking ball of urban renewal arrives.

In a series of misadventures, Firmin is ultimately led deep into his own imaginative soul-a place where Ginger Rogers can hold him tight and tattered books, storied neighborhoods, and down-and-out rats can find people who adore them.

Review:

"Savage's sentimental debut concerns the coming-of-age of a well-read rat in 1960s Boston. In the basement of Pembroke Books, a bookstore on Scollay Square, Firmin is the runt of the litter born to Mama Flo, who makes confetti of Moby-Dick and Don Quixote for her offspring's cradle. Soon left to fend for himself, Firmin finds that books are his only friends, and he becomes a hopeless romantic, devouring Great Books — sometimes literally. Aware from his frightful reflection that he is no Fred Astaire (his hero), he watches nebbishy bookstore owner Norman Shine from afar and imagines his love is returned until Norman tries to poison him. Thereafter he becomes the pet of a solitary sci-fi writer, Jerry Magoon, a smart slob and drinker who teaches Firmin about jazz, moviegoing and the writer's life. Alas, their world is threatened by extinction with the renovation of Scollay Square, which forces the closing of the bookstore and Firmin's beloved Rialto Theater. With this alternately whimsical and earnest paean to the joys of literature, Savage embodies writerly self-doubts and yearning in a precocious rat: 'I have had a hard time facing up to the blank stupidity of an ordinary, unstoried life.'" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"This is a cleverly written memoir of the colorful lives and distinct shops of a Boston borough that was sadly replaced by lackluster government offices." Library Journal

Review:

"An amusing diversion for bibliophiles and Willard fans; in Savage's debut, a rat's life may be brutish and short, but not necessarily without style." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"Blending philosophy and abundant literary references with originality, Savage crafts a small comic gem about the costs and rewards of literary illusions." Booklist

Review:

"Firmin, the debut novel by Sam Savage, gives us the funny and strangely touching story of this melancholic and intellectual rat and, in showing us the artist in the rat, makes us understand the rat in every artist." Minneapolis Star Tribune

Synopsis:

Born in a bookstore in a blighted 1960s Boston neighborhood, Firmin learns to read by digesting his nest of shredded books. But he quickly learns that a literate rat is a lonely rat. Alienated from his family, he seeks the friendship of his hero, the bookseller and a down-on-his-luck science fiction writer who frequents the shop. Yet Firmin's inability to convey his thoughts to the humans he loves leads to a series of harrowing misadventures. Against a backdrop of urban destruction and burlesque cinema, Firmin is led deep into his own imaginative soul — a place where Ginger Rogers can hold him tight and tattered books, storied neighborhoods, and down-and-out rats alike can find people who adore them.

Synopsis:

A darkly comic rat's tale of exile, unrequited love, and the redemptive power of literature. Unforgettable!

About the Author

A native of South Carolina, Sam Savage now lives in Madison, Wisconsin. This is his first novel.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 6 comments:

Art Librarian, September 21, 2011 (view all comments by Art Librarian)
This is an odd little book, sad and imaginative, hopeful and inspiring. Anyone who loves the escapism one can find in books and who has to cope with the rigors and trials of urban life can likely relate to this tale.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
greatferm, April 30, 2009 (view all comments by greatferm)
The Jesuit rat. Poverty, chastity and scholarship.

I love the metphor, of life as the pursuit of the 13th tit. Yesssss !

And James Joyce cannot be read, better for nesting, or eating...

And wherever you are, if you stay there, things will run down. If I had stayed in my home town, Dwindle City, Ohio, that would be ever so clear.

And it reminds me of Orwell's "Down and Out in Paris and London". Except that was merely a man.
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(2 of 6 readers found this comment helpful)
Madam Pince, December 28, 2008 (view all comments by Madam Pince)
Firmin is a novel very much in the somber -- some would say depressing -- tradition of Thomas Hardy. Born in the basement of a Boston bookstore, the 13th in a litter of rats finds by nibbling on books that, unlike his siblings, he can read, think and write (at least in his mind). Choosing to spend his life in the building where he was born, rather than set out for "up top," he reads widely, scrounges for food, and loves the humans in his building, whether or not they return his affection -- all while the neighborhood, Scollay Square, falls into decline and is slated for demolition. His intelligence is just as much a blessing as a curse, making him aware of his homely appearance, his inability to speak, and frequent reminders that humans view him as a pest, not a sentient being (such as the "goodbye zipper" debacle). Illustrations by Fernando Krahn not only flesh out Firmin for readers, but add a ghoulish note -- the black & white drawings accent the novel's bleak tone. A cover blurb from the Los Angeles Times refers to Firmin as a Dickensian hero, but with its conclusion, I see an inevitable comparison with Hardy's Jude Fawley.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781566891813
Subtitle:
Adventures of a Metropolitan Lowlife
Author:
Savage, Sam
Illustrator:
Mikolowski, Michael
Author:
Mikolowski, Michael
Publisher:
Coffee House Press
Subject:
General
Subject:
Fantasy - General
Subject:
Rats
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Literary
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Publication Date:
20060401
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
15 BandW illustrations
Pages:
162
Dimensions:
7.75 x 5 x 0.5 in 6.5 oz

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Related Subjects

Featured Titles » Morning News Tournament » Tournament of Books 2007
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Science Fiction and Fantasy » Fantasy » General

Firmin: Adventures of a Metropolitan Lowlife Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$4.95 In Stock
Product details 162 pages Coffee House Press - English 9781566891813 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Savage's sentimental debut concerns the coming-of-age of a well-read rat in 1960s Boston. In the basement of Pembroke Books, a bookstore on Scollay Square, Firmin is the runt of the litter born to Mama Flo, who makes confetti of Moby-Dick and Don Quixote for her offspring's cradle. Soon left to fend for himself, Firmin finds that books are his only friends, and he becomes a hopeless romantic, devouring Great Books — sometimes literally. Aware from his frightful reflection that he is no Fred Astaire (his hero), he watches nebbishy bookstore owner Norman Shine from afar and imagines his love is returned until Norman tries to poison him. Thereafter he becomes the pet of a solitary sci-fi writer, Jerry Magoon, a smart slob and drinker who teaches Firmin about jazz, moviegoing and the writer's life. Alas, their world is threatened by extinction with the renovation of Scollay Square, which forces the closing of the bookstore and Firmin's beloved Rialto Theater. With this alternately whimsical and earnest paean to the joys of literature, Savage embodies writerly self-doubts and yearning in a precocious rat: 'I have had a hard time facing up to the blank stupidity of an ordinary, unstoried life.'" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "This is a cleverly written memoir of the colorful lives and distinct shops of a Boston borough that was sadly replaced by lackluster government offices."
"Review" by , "An amusing diversion for bibliophiles and Willard fans; in Savage's debut, a rat's life may be brutish and short, but not necessarily without style."
"Review" by , "Blending philosophy and abundant literary references with originality, Savage crafts a small comic gem about the costs and rewards of literary illusions."
"Review" by , "Firmin, the debut novel by Sam Savage, gives us the funny and strangely touching story of this melancholic and intellectual rat and, in showing us the artist in the rat, makes us understand the rat in every artist."
"Synopsis" by , Born in a bookstore in a blighted 1960s Boston neighborhood, Firmin learns to read by digesting his nest of shredded books. But he quickly learns that a literate rat is a lonely rat. Alienated from his family, he seeks the friendship of his hero, the bookseller and a down-on-his-luck science fiction writer who frequents the shop. Yet Firmin's inability to convey his thoughts to the humans he loves leads to a series of harrowing misadventures. Against a backdrop of urban destruction and burlesque cinema, Firmin is led deep into his own imaginative soul — a place where Ginger Rogers can hold him tight and tattered books, storied neighborhoods, and down-and-out rats alike can find people who adore them.
"Synopsis" by ,
A darkly comic rat's tale of exile, unrequited love, and the redemptive power of literature. Unforgettable!
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