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Firminby Sam Savage
A rat named Firmin, who lives in a bookstore, spends his days devouring books due to a constant state of starvation. This leads to an unusual mental development, and soon he's reading Joyce, Dickens, Tolstoy, etc. This is an adorable, hilarious read that is particularly fun for bibliophiles.
Synopses & Reviews
In the basement of a Boston bookstore, Firmin is born in a shredded copy Finnegans Wake, nurtured on a diet of Zane Grey, Lady Chatterleys Lover, and Jane Eyre (which tastes a lot like lettuce). While his twelve siblings gnaw these books obliviously, for Firmin the words, thoughts, deeds, and hopes—all the literature he consumes—soon consume him. Emboldened by reading, intoxicated by curiosity, foraging for food, Firmin ventures out of his bookstore sanctuary, carrying with him all the yearnings and failings of humanity itself. Its a lot to ask of a rat—especially when his home is on the verge of annihilation.
A novel that is by turns hilarious, tragic, and hopeful, Firmin is a masterpiece of literary imagination. For here, a tender soul, a vagabond and philosopher, struggles with mortality and meaning—in a tale for anyone who has ever feasted on a book…and then had to turn the final page.
"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.)
"Blending philosophy and abundant literary references with originality, Savage crafts a small comic gem about the costs and rewards of literary illusions." Booklist
"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
"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
"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
Born in a bookstore in a blighted 1960's Boston neighborhood, Firmin the rat miraculously learns how to read by digesting his nest of books. He quickly realizes that a literate rat is a lonely rat. In a series of misadventures, Firmin is ultimately led deep into his own imaginative soul.
About the Author
Sam Savage is a native of South Carolina now living in Madison, Wisconsin. He received his bachelor and doctoral degree from Yale University where he taught briefly, and has also worked as a bicycle mechanic, carpenter, commercial fisherman, and letterpress printer. This is his first novel.
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