Jeff's Reviews > Firmin

Firmin by Sam Savage
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's review
Mar 09, 2009

really liked it

Sam Savage’s wildly original novel, the story of a rat born on a copy of “Finnegan’s Wake” in a Boston bookstore, is a tender, beautiful gift to bibliophiles!

Unlike his siblings who feast on the pages of books in blissful ignorance, Firmin not only consumes the books surrounding him in his birthplace, but also becomes consumed by them – their thoughts, their words, and their ideas. He has the “gift of lexical hypertrophy,” but is, unfortunately, trapped by the physical limitations of being a rat. His mind is, therefore, swimming with thoughts that he is unable to communicate. Left without the ability to speak, sign, laugh, cry, or even sing, he becomes a melancholy clown, a perpetual dreamer. It is to Sam Savage’s credit that he can turn one rat’s obsession with books, Fred Astaire movies, and pornography into a compelling and touching portrait of a reader who is both empowered and defeated by his very obsessions. “Firmin” may be a story about a rat, but it is told with more humanity than most other books I have read over the past year.
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