A friend in America sent us this fun oddity a few years ago – Firmin (2006). Sam Savage’s work is a clever and upbeat account of an intellectual rat. A “debonair soul” who eats books as he grows up amongst his siblings, gaining super-rat brain powers in the process. This leads him to a considerable existential crisis as he struggles to comprehend his existence as merely a scruffy looking rodent.
Savage developed the story from an experience he had observed. A bookstore was facing demolishment, which led him to think of how the rats around the area could deal with this. The result is a surprisingly clever and engaging title, with little Firmin representing the type of introspective angst that is coming to define younger generations. Let’s have a gander.
As Firmin the rat grows up in a bookstore, his siblings spurn him. Lonely, he starts to chew on books, which imbue him with a vocabulary and eventually a high intelligence. Having blasted his way through all the canonical, and philosophical, classics his stomach can manage, he soon finds this enlightenment doesn’t exactly free him from the constraints of his being. He’s a rat. And what is a rat to do?
Lonely and depressed, he observes the bookstore owner as he goes about his life. Norman is balding and unusual for Firmin, but he soon views the human as something of a tacit kindred spirit. But the area is under “urban regeneration” mode and the bookstore is already doomed. With bulldozers on the way, can Firmin use his peculiar intellect to create some form of positive outcome?
It’s an innovative and concise story. The Los Angeles Times heralded it as something of a Dickensian tale, with Firmin up against the odds in a time of specific strife. We enjoyed it a great deal, too, as it’s so intelligently written, witty, and inventive. Lost amidst a mass of generic releases, we feel Firmin has since become an obscure title. As so many excellent releases often do, sadly. But we’re here to champion its cause – it’s a great fun little read. Hunt it down and give it a go.
Rats get a lot of bad press. It’s so typical of humans to conceive the eradication solution for “vermin” across, for example, New York. This is rather than dealing with the issues that attract the rats in the first place (i.e. how about we do something about the absurd amount of rubbish we all create?). But filmmaker Morgan Spurlock’s panic-stricken documentary above highlights the horror we all face, right?
For folks who’ve ever owned a rat, or a rodent (we’re big hamster fans), you’ll find these comical, lively, inquisitive little beasts are full of the wonders of life. Rats are super smart, which has created severe problems for humans in trying to “deal” with them – no matter how hard you try to “rat proof” your home, they’ll find a way in. Generally, though, if you keep a clean environment and don’t leave food lying around like an idiot, they won’t bother you.
Thusly, we’re here to champion the rodent. Whether it’s the hamster, rat, mouse, or squirrel, these most excellent little creatures must be celebrated. A book like Firmin certainly helps the cause, but documentaries such as Spurlock’s demented wonder do not. Ultimately, if you’re looking for an epic pet, then turn your attention to the world of these scurrying, intelligent, sweet-natured little fur balls.