Firmin is a rat. Vermin. But a very special rat. He loves literature. To be precise, he loves to eat literature, books, ingests each page with enthusiasm. This does not digest well, leaves him feeling ill. Fortunately he realizes that they are much better for reading. Yes, this rat can read, and read quickly, taking in a 400 page novel in an hour. He also determines that he can tell the quality of the writing by tasting the printed words within the book. So before he begins he takes a little bite from the title page, this way he doesn’t chew up some of the story. Obviously Firmin is a very unique animal.
Firmin: Adventures of a Metropolitan Lowlife, by Sam Savage, is one of those novels that I am not sure I completely understand, not sure if I “get it”. I feel like it may be an allegory, but for what I have no idea. I may simply be trying to read too much into it. Nevertheless, it is an interesting and entertaining read.
The novel is Sam Savage’s freshman effort and is certainly fresh. It is not in every book you find a rodent as the main character, especially a book that is not written for children. Its success may lie in the fact that Firmin is a likable character with whom the reader can empathize. He sees himself as human, or would like to if he were not constantly reminded otherwise. He wants only to love, but to love humans, and to be able to communicate. He does find some success in love but not much in the way of communicating. It is a difficult thing for a rat who loves words not to be able to converse with the species to which he is most able to identify.
The story of Firmin is a bit tragic, a bit lonely and very unique. It is also a short but terrific read.