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Bookstore Rat

The LitBlog Co-op's latest READ THIS! selection is Firmin, a remarkable first novel by Sam Savage about a dejected rat who haunts a Boston bookstore and falls in love with literature. We meet this poignant creature as a weak infant rejected by his siblings, and we get our first taste of this novel's unique voice when poor Firmin describes the sensation of being pulled backward by his hind legs as he desperately tries to suck at his alcoholic mother's teat.

It's Sam Savage's awesome talent that inspired the LitBlog Co-op to select this unusual novel over several books about people, and even if you can't imagine yourself going wild for a book about a talking animal, you ought to give this book a try. It's not clear what mutation makes this rat so fond of great literature, and it's also not completely clear whether he is eating Nabokov and Tolstoy and Flaubert or reading them (or both). But everything about this pathetic and lonesome character feels real, as he stumbles through a short hopeful life filled with love, betrayal, delusion, urban dislocation and, finally, friendship.

Sam Savage's humorous pathos may remind you of Nikolai Gogol, and like Gogol this author keeps it short and sweet. Firmin is a surprising book, and I hope it finds the audience it deserves.

— Levi, LitKicks

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Brockman is the head writer for the daily Book News posts on the Powells.com blog. In his free time he's hard at work on his fictional memoir, which changes titles daily.

The views and commentary posted by Brockman are entirely his own, and are not representative of the whole of Powell's Books, its employees, or any sane human being.


Books mentioned in this post

  1. Firmin: Adventures of a Metropolitan...
    Used Trade Paper $4.95



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