Firmin – Sam Savage
February 8, 2010 § 16 Comments
And from them I learned a valuable lesson – that no matter how small you are, your madness can be as big as anyone’s.
Told by a rat, Firmin is a story about the rat himself as he discovers the world of literature by literally chewing at books day and night. His love for having books as part of his diet was initially borne out of necessity, but as the days go by, he learns that each book has a different taste. Learning how to read the text on these books also tells him that different authors give him a completely different experience of the text he gobbles up.
And with that, he learns to love reading.
Firmin lives in some dark corner in a second hand bookstore, which is how he gets to devour books on a daily basis. Initially starting at the basement where mostly old editions of classic books are kept, Firmin keeps referring us to the different kinds of literature he’s reading, from the opening sentences of Lolita and The Good Soldier (both of which I want to read now), to a book from which he learns sign language.
As the adventures of this metropolitan lowlife continue, he goes out to discover other sources of food (so that he doesn’t need to always get an upset stomach after eating his books), and instead discovers the cinema. He loves his Lovelies, and he’s not afraid to tell you about it. (It did get a little weird towards the end. I’m not sure I fully understood a couple of scenes..)
Firmin himself (later he got named Ernie, but you’ll have to read to find out more..) is a character that’s easy to love. I’m sometimes a little squemish about rats, but this literary rat made me feel like I wanted to get to know him, shrink myself down to size and carry out inspired conversations with him.
And he’s my kind of rat too. He’s funny, he makes you chuckle, but he’s not happy-happy, and he knows it.
I have never been right in the head, but I am not demented. You may raise an eyebrow here, you may raise both eyebrows, but the fact remains, daydreams and mental tricks are one things, nuts is another. And I am not the kind of creature who can be crazy without knowing it.
As you have probably guessed by now, I am a pretty depressive character myself and know all about the seventeen kinds of despair…
It was a very enjoyable read. Loved the literary references. A light read, one that kind of reminds you why you liked reading in the first place.