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 hopesall the literature he consumessoon 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 ratespecially 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 meaningin a tale for anyone who has ever feasted on a book and then had to turn the final page.
First published by Coffee House Press in 2006. Republished by Delta, a division of Random House, in 2009.
Though bite-size, this first novel by Sam Savage is mouth-wateringly creative, clever, unconventional and entertaining. Firmin the Rat was born in the basement of a bookstore, and from thenceforth constructs his entire schema of the world both around him and within him in terms of literature. His imagination is as wild as the author's, taking Firmin on flights of fancy that encapsulate the reader in a fantasy land that is hard to tear away from. He takes us around the world to cities like Paris, inside the intimate relationships of Hollywood stars such as Ginger Rogers, into the brains of literary greats including F. Scott Fitzgerald, and everywhere in between ....
Firmin is the kind of debut novel that exemplifies an author's raw creativity and passion for the art of writing, as much as the story. All readers will want to take a bite, both figuratively and literally, out of this page-turner. (Reviewed by Allison Stadd).
Blending philosophy and abundant literary references with originality, Savage crafts a small comic gem about the costs and rewards of literary illusions.
With this alternately whimsical and earnest paean to the joys of literature, Savage embodies writerly self-doubts and yearning in a precocious rat.
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
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.
Karen Joy Fowler, author of The Jane Austen Book Club.
A surprising and surprisingly moving meditation on the advantages (and disadvantages) of an entirely fictional life. Eloquent and witty, Firmin speaks for the book-loving rodent in all of us.
Though his book is wildly inventive, Savage is far from the
first novelist to anthropomorphize a rat. Firmin stands out for presenting literature
as sustenance for the body as well as the mind - as Firmin eats his way through
the books, the thoughts, words and deeds contained consume him with intoxicating
For every work of literature that contains a positive description of
an anthropomorphized rat, there are probably at least a couple where rats come
off less well; they seem to do especially poorly in books 'peopled' only by animals where they tend to
be typecast as
villains or outcasts.
From the rats of Hamlin to Dilbert's co-employee Ratbert, rats feature far and
wide, although not nearly as widely as mice. Here's a quick run down of a
few of the better known literary rats.
The rats of
Brain Jacques's Redwall series - possibly the nastiest and
most villainous of literary rodents.
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