Friday, 29 January 2010
Firmin by Sam Savage
Firmin, therefore is a story narrated by a book-loving, cinema visiting, thinking rat. He is not a cartoon character though. He is still a rat, with all the tendencies usually attributed to a rat, except he can read, and formulate ideas. Unusually for stories narrated by animals, this was actually quite a melancholic tale. We are told at the start that it is a sad story, and Firmin is never quite at ease with himself. He can read the books, but as he is a rat, he cannot speak, or articulate any thoughts. He spends a lot of time watching the owner of the bookshop and imagines that they are similar, and even that they are friends, but when he believes him to have let him down he is devastated, although he never quite lets go of the bookshop.
Firmin is a fully realised character. As readers we get to learn all about his wishes and desires, the main one being his desire to love and be loved. He never quite achieves this, mainly due to the fact that he is a rat, but with human thoughts, and his anibility to communicate these thoughts. Although his attempts to learn sign language are amusing, but his attempt to try it out on the public has mixed results.
I find it difficult to say quite why I liked this book so much. I was gripped by Firmin's story, and his adventures both in the bookshop and out of it. I loved the way his worldview was totally informed by literature and the shock when he realised it was not like this. And his totally unique worldview, and optimistic view of the way humanity would treat a cultured rat! Peppered with literary references, he compares virtually everything he experiences to literature, and even each chapter is prefaced with a picture of a book mentioned during the story. It was just a really entertaining, thought provoking story, and I was engrossed from beginning to end. And I'll just finish on my second favourite passage because I couldn't leave it out.