Sunday, 26 September 2010

Review:- Sam SAVAGE – “Firmin”

Year Published: - 2006
Where the book was from:- My own copy
ISBN: - 978 0 7538 2339 2
Pages: - 232pp
Genre: - General Fiction
Location:- Boston
How I came across it: - Found in a charity shop
Rating: - ***** *****
One sentence summary:- The brilliant tale of Firmin a self-educated rat who lives in a bookstore in the 1960s in a part of Boston scheduled for demolition.

Describe the plot without giving anything away:-

This is the remarkable tale of Firmin the rat – subtitled the adventures of a metropolitan lowlife. Born in a bookstore in a blighted 1960's Boston neighbourhood, 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.

General comments:-

“A wonderful celebration of the way reading enriches your life” (Guardian)

This described in my edition as Savage’s first novel but Fantastic Fiction shows he published a previous novel, “The Criminal Life of Effie O.”, in 2005.


“Obviously even at that early age I was already suffering from the catastrophic gifts of lexical hypertrophy, which has since done so much to mar the smooth course of what might otherwise have been a perfectly ordinary life.”

“I realized that this incredible disorder was one of the things that they loved about Pembroke Books.... They called it browsing, but it was more like excavation or mining. I was surprised they didn’t come in with shovels. They dug for treasures with bare hands, up to their armpits sometimes, and when they hauled some literary nugget from a mound of dross, they were much happier than if they had just walked in and bought it.”

“Unrequited love is bad. But unrequitable love can really get you down.”

“I always think everything is going to last forever, but nothing ever does. In fact nothing exists longer than an instant except the things that we hold in memory.”

“Mine was a large family, and soon thirteen of us were cruddled in its struins, to speak like itself, ‘chippy young cuppinjars cluttering round, clottering for their creams’...”

“Even though I consider myself lucky to have lived the liofe I did. I would not like to be that lucky twice.”

AUTHOR Notes:- A native of South Carolina, Sam Savage received his doctorate in philosophy from Yale.. He has worked as a bicycle mechanic, carpenter, commercial fisherman and letterpress printer. He now lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

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