Firmin: Adventures of a Metropolitan Lowlife. Sam Savage.
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I was utterly surprised by how quickly I was taken in by this small book. Savage's tale of a rat who learns how to read, falls in love with late-night nudie movies, and seeks to communicate with humans is a touching story. Funny. Sad. Thoughtful.
And don't be confused by the title. Savage's debut novel is not kiddie fare.
Firmin is the runt of the litter, born in the basement of a Boston book store. Pushed aside by his bigger brothers and sisters and forgotten by his boozy mother, he turns to eating books to survive. At some point, he goes beyond eating the paper and glue and learns to read. His family moves on, but Firmin remains behind to live out his life traveling back and forth between Pembroke Books and the Rialto movie theatre, where he gets to see his "Loveys."
The 67-year-old Savage is a former professor of philosophy at Yale, and it's clear that he's using Firmin to get us to think about our own human foibles. It's also his love letter to literature. Firmin is a book that defies categorization. But I recommend it highly to anyone who loves reading.
Here's an interesting article on Savage from the UK, where his book has developed quite a following.