By Sam Savage
(Delta, Paperback, 9780385342650, 176pp.)
Publication Date: December 30, 2008
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In the basement of a Boston bookstore, Firmin is born in a shredded copy Finnegans Wake, nurtured on a diet of Zane Grey, Lady Chatterley’s 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. It’s 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.
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.
- Chapter One of Firmin begins, "I had always imagined that my life story…would have a great first line." How would your autobiography begin?
"Firmin is one of the most enjoyably surprising books I’ve read for a long time. It’s a work of great originality: whenever I thought it was going to be one sort of book, it gently swerved aside and became another. This suggests an uncertainty of purpose, but that’s not the impression at all. It’s held together by the character of the narrator himself, a rat of deep humanity and intelligence, and the final impression is one of delicate tragedy. This really is a book like nothing else."—Philip Pullman
“Delicious. Firmin is a book that is written for Readers, that is, for people who have the book passion and for whom books are as real as anything else in life. Realer, perhaps.” —Donna Leon
“Surprising and 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.” —Karen Joy Fowler, bestselling author of The Jane Austen Book Club
“[A] moving and wildly inventive novel…Firmin is a hero in the Dickensian mode…with the sardonic shadings of Vonnegut, and the same explicit tenderness.” —Los Angeles Times
“An alternately whimsical and earnest paean to the joys of literature.” —Publishers Weekly
"Mouth-wateringly creative, clever, unconventional and entertaining....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."—BookBrowse.com