La storia del topo Firmino che si ciba di libri per non morire di fame ha incantato i lettori di tutto il mondo, che lo hanno eletto a simbolo di quella figura emarginata, ma ostinata, che è il lettore di romanzi nella nostra società. «Non ne potevo piú di topi. Sono ovunque: al cinema, in televisione, nei fumetti, nelle fogne sotto casa. Poi ho conosciuto Firmino. Solo un topastro sfigato e malinconico come lui mi poteva rimettere in pace con il mondo dei roditori». Niccolò Ammaniti «Firmino, il topo che Walt ...
La storia del topo Firmino che si ciba di libri per non morire di fame ha incantato i lettori di tutto il mondo, che lo hanno eletto a simbolo di quella figura emarginata, ma ostinata, che è il lettore di romanzi nella nostra società. «Non ne potevo piú di topi. Sono ovunque: al cinema, in televisione, nei fumetti, nelle fogne sotto casa. Poi ho conosciuto Firmino. Solo un topastro sfigato e malinconico come lui mi poteva rimettere in pace con il mondo dei roditori». Niccolò Ammaniti «Firmino, il topo che Walt Disney avrebbe inventato se solo fosse stato Borges. Se leggere è il vostro piacere e il vostro destino, questo libro è stato scritto per voi». Alessandro Baricco «Firmino racconta di tutti noi il giorno in cui abbiamo scoperto che con un libro potevamo inventare la nostra vita». Valeria Parrella «Chi ama leggere farà subito amicizia con Firmino. Questo memorabile topo di biblioteca generato da una pantegana alcolizzata ci insegna che leggere è anche un peccato di gola. I buoni libri, ci ricorda Firmino, si divorano e lasciano, come questo di Sam Savage, il miele in bocca e un po' d'amaro nelle viscere». Domenico Starnone
After a stint teaching philosophy "briefly and unhappily" at his alma mater, Yale, Sam Savage went on to work as a carpenter, a commercial fisherman, and a letterpress printer, all while he "attempted to write, pretended to write, and often really did write." The perseverance paid off with the publication of his offbeat novel, Firmin: Adventures of a Metropolitan Lowlife, whose protagonist just happens to be a rat -- albeit a very literary one.
Sam Savage grew up in a small town in South Carolina in the '40s and '50s. Then he went north, first to Boston and New York, and later to France and Germany. He studied at the University of Heidelberg and at Yale, eventually acquiring a Ph.D. in philosophy from Yale. He taught there, briefly and unhappily. It was a period when many had become convinced that there are no genuine philosophic problems, only genuine linguistic puzzles. This discovery did not leave any "career options" for Savage, since the only puzzle that interested him at that time was himself. In 1980 he went back south, to McClellanville, South Carolina (pop. 400), where he spent the next twenty-three years. He worked as a carpenter, a commercial fisherman, and a letterpress printer. He lived, however, mainly on a diminishing pile of inherited money and the labors of his wife, while he attempted to write, pretended to write, and often really did write. Most of the things he wrote have not survived. In 2003, he moved north again, this time to Madison, Wisconsin, where he now lives.
Savage has proved to be the most persistant and annoying of the Old Rat's fictions.
Biography courtesy of the author's official web site.
Good To Know
Some fun and fascinating outtakes from our interview with Savage:
"Two years before starting Firmin, I wrote a long story in a ragged verse form I like to call high doggerel. I persuaded my sister, the artist Virginia Beverley, to illustrate it, and we posted the whole thing on the web as The Criminal Life of Effie O. It is now available as a paperback book. Effie O was the first thing I wrote after I had learned not to give a damn. I wrote it for my sister, to whom I would read chapters over the phone as I finished them, and my wife, Nora, who I knew would like it, and for the joy of it."
"As for the inspiration for my writing, I don't plan a novel, don't start off with an idea or plot, such as 'a story about a literate rat in a Boston bookstore.' When I began writing Firmin I didn't even know Firmin was a rat, I didn't know he was in Boston, I didn't know it was a novel. If I am not working on a story, I sit at the typewriter (or now the computer) and just type without any leading idea, the writing equivalent I suppose of an aimless walk. Most of the time nothing comes of it, but not always. I rewrite a paragraph several times before I go on to next one. I try not to think about where it's all going, out of fear that of forcing the story in a preconceived direction rather than letting the direction emerge from the writing."
"As for jobs, I have probably had a greater variety than most people, but I have spent much more time sitting in armchairs doing what some have described unkindly as 'staring into space.' The riches this activity (and it was an activity) brought in, however, have not been convertible to cash. Among jobs I got paid for doing my favorite was working a crab boat along the coast of South Carolina, where I had returned after leaving the university. For six or seven hours a day I was alone in a boat in the marsh creeks, often not seeing another human from the time I left the dock to the time I returned. When I shut off the engine to cull my catch, the only sounds were birds, wind, and water. I thought, and still think, I was in those moments the luckiest person on earth."
"These days my pleasures are small and local. I walk by the lakes. I watch movies on video. I go out once or twice a week for lunch in some little restaurant. I read. My dislikes are large and universal. I have an aversion to jargon. Especially academic jargon. I dream that one morning all the cars in the city will fail to start. I anguish over war and famine. I read the news obsessively. I fume. I think I rant."