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“A darkly comic rat's tale of exile, unrequited love, and the redemptive power of literature. Unforgettable! Set in the 1960s, this richly allegorical story follows a literate rat through his life in Boston's Scollay Square during the last days of its famous bookstores and infamous burlesque...”see full review » see other reviews »
Didn’t Like It1 of 1 members found this review helpful
“From RA for All: http://raforall.blogspot.com/2009/12/what-im-reading-firmin.html
“A cute story that has so much of human feelings on a rat that loves to read. ”Rose A wrote this review Friday, October 18, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I am a sucker for books whose main character is a member of the Muroidea superfamily of Rodentia. The protagonist, Firmin, shot this book to 3 looks on merit alone. However, I take issue with the writing of the book, most specifically the use of various and random vulgarities. It is completely unnecessary,and it feels that the author is doing it just to move his novel out of YA and into a more mature audience. It doesn't serve him well. I found this is be very distracting, adding no value to the story or voice of Firmin.
With that said, I have read many reviews that state that it is a sad novel. I didn't find it so at all. I felt that Firmin had an excellent life (lest we forget he is, after all, a rat). He had an excellent home, learned to read and understand books, made a friend, and was able to find fairly good meals. The fact that he settles down in the end to await his fate is not sad, but poignant. All his life, he has tried to rise above what he is. Finally, he comes to terms with the fact that he is not a man, not an author, not a dancer or pianist, but a rat. I found it to be rather fitting.
Despite the author's sophomoric style with his use of vulgarities, I found his writing to be witty and smart. I highlighted several words, and would consider this a word-building book. I would recommend it, but not if you are easily offended. ”
“Funny, about a rat that reads.”Judith wrote this review Friday, February 15, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Told from the perspective of a very literary Bostonian rat, this is certainly a unique book. At first, in the early stages of the novel, it is a light, laugh-out-loud funny and a sort of bibliophiles-version of the Pixar movie, Ratatouille. But make no mistake, the book doesn’t linger in this mode for long. As Firmin ages, the book takes on much darker undertones - this is an adult book and not a Disney one. But booklovers will enjoy the comedy of young Firmin devouring literature in his home in a used bookstore - first literally, then metaphorically. Firmin makes for a charming narrator and what starts off as a cutesy story, with genuinely hilarious lines and observations quietly shifts into a darker, more melancholy and cynical novel. The acute observations and Firmin’s interactions with both rats and humanity make this slim volume (under 200 pages!) a remarkable debut for Savage. Despite its darker undercurrent, this is an enjoyable, entertaining and ultimately a thought-provoking read.
It definitely is a rather odd book and Firmin’s obsession with his “Lovelies” may make some readers uncomfortable. Ginger Rogers’ appearance is also rather interesting, but it all plays into Firmin’s “rattiness”. The relationships constructed between the characters have a startlingly realistic feel to them as well. It truly is a fascinating novel and one that begs to be shared amonst booklovers.”
“What a weird and funny little book! Abundant with literary references and illustrations that wonderfully enhance the story’s progress, reading Firmin was a delightful surprise. It is one of the more imaginative and original stories that I’ve read recently.
Firmin is the youngest in a family of rodents living in a corner of a basement of a bookstore in a decaying, rat-infested section of Boston that is soon due for demolition. The bookstore rats, as rats will do, scavenge for food and make their bed by chewing into the middle pages of the old books stored there. Our rat hero and the story’s narrator, Firmin, discovers his genius while shredding a page of one of the great novels. He accidentally realizes that he can read the words, and that the books he samples are full of ideas and profundities that can open up a world of fascinating and amazing things. He soon learns to savor the different tastes associated with different styles of literature. (Jane Eyre tastes like lettuce.) He recognizes by taste the books that are written by The Big Ones (like Joyce or Melville or Tolstoy, to name a few). “Good to eat is good to read” becomes his motto.
As his realization of his intelligence increases, he becomes completely isolated from his own kind. He is lonely and in his loneliness and sadness he goes deeper into his own imagination, taking us with him on his surreal and dream-like adventures as he seeks to understand the meaning of his “ridiculous” life.
A blurb on the back cover calls Firmin “a tale of exile, unrequited love, and the redemptive power of literature”. These are awfully big words for a sweet and sad little novel like this to live up to, but I think Firmin was definitely worth a “taste”.
“Firmin was written by a failed novelist, way past his prime and the story of the success of this novel reads like a Hollywood fairy tale. The author was in his late fifties when he gave up on a career as a novelist but came back to write this allegorical story of a literary rat (literally). The book became a sensation in, of all places, Italy, and word of the bookish rat soon travelled across the globe. Firmin became an international bestseller and the quiet Yale-educated Doctor of Philosophy became a famous author in his sixties. Don’t let this fable keep you from actually reading the book. Firmin is brief in length but it says a lot and it’s all said through the thoughts of its eponymous rodent. This is one of the best novels in a long time and Savage is a new leading light of literature. Enjoy the rat. Enjoy Savage. Have a piece of cheese that’s anything but cheesy.”Robert Price Rifkin wrote this review Tuesday, October 25, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
Ich wollte diese Geschichte lesen, seit ich eine kurze Zusammenfassung gelesen habe. Demnach geht es um die Liebe fürs Lesen und Einsamkeit. Und um eine intelligente Ratte. Nach Flowers for Algernon hatte ich eine ziemlich konkrete Vorstellung von einem solchen Tier – und Firmin ist ganz anders. Er wurde schon so geboren, nicht künstlich im Labor verändert, und erzählt seine Lebensgeschichte selber: von der Geburt über die Entdeckung der Bücher (die er erst für den Geschmack und später für den Inhalt schätzte), von seinem Leben in einer Buchhandlung und dem Umzug zu einem Schriftsteller. Alles ist niedlich und an manchen Stellen recht lustig, aber dahinter verbirgt sich ein tieferer Sinn. Firmin spricht Wahrheiten aus, die man als Mensch von einem anderen Menschen nicht gern hören würde. Außerdem spielen sich Ereignisse in Boston ab, die nicht nur sein Leben grundsätzlich verschlechtern. Und ein letzter Pluspunkt ist, dass viel über andere Bücher gesprochen wird, viel zitiert, kommentiert. Die kleine Ratte sucht für bestimmte Situationen in ihrem Leben passende Titel. Sie ist offensichtlich geboren, um Schriftsteller zu sein, aber gefangen im falschen Körper. Die Geschichte ist rührend und ich freue mich, sie gelesen zu haben, ich hatte weniger erwartet!
“What an original and wonderful idea. This little rat, Fermin, who eats books and learns to read, learns to play jazz on a toy piano and drinks wine with the man who takes him in eventually....this is one hilarious read. Full of great lines that you find yourself reading again and again because the laugh was so good, this is one rat that you will love because you'll forget that he's a rat. If he was real, I'd find him and make him my pet. He's just too cool. ”Vinnie Van Go Go wrote this review Sunday, March 20, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Very original. About a rat who was born in a bookstore and reads books. ”Myra wrote this review Saturday, March 19, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“It's really kind of a depressing book but it's definitely not boring and it makes you think. Plus, the idea of a rat like Firmin is really very interesting and unique. I was sympathetic towards Firmin throughout the whole book regardless of his many character flaws. These flaws made him strikingly human, with just the right amount of rodent as well.”Krista O wrote this review Sunday, December 26, 2010. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No