Un relato de humor negro sobre el exilio de una rata, un amor no correspondido y el poder de la literatura. Nacido en una pequena libreria en un decadente barrio de Boston, Firmin aprende a leer digiriendo su nido hecho de un libro cortado a tiras. Pero rapidamente comprende que una rata culta es una rata solitaria. Marginada de su familia, busca la amistad de su heroe, el librero, y de un escritor de ciencia ficcion fracasado. A traves de una serie de desventuras, Firmin es presa de su propia alma creativa, un lugar donde Ginger Rogers puede abrazarle fuerte y donde los libros roidos y las ratas acabadas pueden encontrar a alquien que las adore. A medida que Firmin navega por las calles sombrias en busca de amor y comprension, su soledad y su miedo se tornan humanos en irremediablemente conmovedores. Original de una manera brillante y llena de alegorias, Firmin esta replete de encanto y de anoranza por un mundo que entiende el poder redentor de la literatura.
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
Sam Savage is a native of South Carolina now living in Madison, Wisconsin. He received his bachelor and doctoral degree from Yale University where he taught briefly, and has also worked as a bicycle mechanic, carpenter, commercial fisherman, and letterpress printer. This is his first novel.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
I had always imagined that my life story, if and when I wrote it, would have a great first line: something lyric like Nabokov's "Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins"; or if I could not do lyric, then something sweeping like Tolstoy's "All happy families are alike, but every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." People remember those words even when they have forgotten everything else about the books. When it comes to openers, though, the best in my view has to be the beginning of Ford Madox Ford's The Good Soldier: "This is the saddest story I have ever heard." I've read that one dozens of times and it still knocks my socks off. Ford Madox Ford was a Big One.
In all my life struggling to write I have struggled with nothing so manfully—yes, that's the word, manfully—as with openers. It has always seemed to me that if I could just get that bit right all the rest would follow automatically. I thought of that first sentence as a kind of semantic womb stuffed with the busy embryos of unwritten pages, brilliant little nuggets of genius practically panting to be born. From that grand vessel the entire story would, so to speak, ooze forth. What a delusion! Exactly the opposite was true. And it is not as if there weren't any good ones. Savor this, for example: "When the phone rang at 3:00 a.m. Morris Monk knew even before picking up the receiver that the call was from a dame, and he knew something else too: dames meant trouble." Or this: "Just before being hacked to pieces by Gamel's sadistic soldiers, Colonel Benchley had a vision of the little whitewashed cottage in Shropshire, and Mrs. Benchley in the doorway, and the children." Or this: "Paris, London, Djibouti, all seemed unreal to him now as he sat amid the ruins of yet another Thanksgiving dinner with his mother and father and that idiot Charles." Who can remain unimpressed by sentences like these? They are so pregnant with meaning, so, I dare say, poignant with it that they positively bulge with whole unwritten chapters—unwritten, but there, already there!
Alas, in reality they were nothing but bubbles, illusions every one. Each of the wonderful phrases, so full of promise, was like a gift-wrapped box clutched in a small child's eager hand, a box that holds nothing but gravel and bits of trash, though it rattles oh so enticingly. He thinks it is candy! I thought it was literature. All those sentences—and many, many others as wel—proved to be not springboards to the great unwritten novel but insurmountable barriers to it. You see, they were too good. I could never live up to them. Some writers can never equal their first novel. I could never equal my first sentence. And look at me now. Look how I have begun this, my final work, my opus: "I had always imagined that my life story, if and when . . ." Good God, "if and when"! You see the problem. Hopeless. Scratch it.
This is the saddest story I have ever heard. It begins, like all true stories, who knows where. Looking for the beginning is like trying to discover the source of a river. You paddle upstream for months under a burning sun, between towering green walls of dripping jungle, soggy maps disintegrating in your hands. You are driven half mad by false hopes, malicious swarms of biting insects, and the tricks of memory, and all you reach at the end—the ultima Thule of the whole ridiculous quest—is a damp spot in the jungle or, in the case of a story, some perfectly meaningless word or gesture. And yet, at some more or less arbitrary place along the way between the damp spot and the sea the cartographer inserts the point of his compass, and there the Amazon begins.
It is the same with me, cartographer of the soul, when I look for the beginning of my life story. I close my eyes and stab. I open them and discover a fluttering instant impaled on my compass point: 3:17 p.m. on the thirtieth of April, 1961. I scrunch up my eyes and bring it into focus. Moment, moment on a pin, where's the fellow with no chin? And there I am—or, rather, there I was—peering cautiously out over the edge of a balcony, just the tip of my nose and one eye. That balcony was a good spot for a looker, a sly peerer like me. From it I could survey the whole shop floor and yet not be seen by any of the people below. That day the store was crowded, more customers than usual for a weekday, and their murmurs floated pleasantly up. It was a beautiful spring afternoon, and some of these people had probably been out for a stroll, thinking about this and that, when their inattention was diverted by a large hand-painted sign in the store window: 30% off all purchases over $20. But I wouldn't really know about that, I mean about what might have attracted them into the store, since I have had no actual experience with the exchange value of money. And indeed the balcony, the store, the customers, even the spring, require explanations, digressions that, however necessary, would wreck the pace of my narrative, which I like to think of as headlong. I have obviously gone too far—in my enthusiasm to get the whole thing going I have overshot the mark. We may never know where a story begins, but we sometimes can tell where it cannot begin, where the stream is already in full flood.
I close my eyes and stab again. I unfold the fluttering instant and pin its wings to the desk: 1:42 a.m., November 9, 1960. It was cold and damp in Boston's Scollay Square, and poor ignorant Flo—whom I would know shortly as Mama—had taken refuge in the basement of a shop on Cornhill. In her great fright she had somehow contrived to squeeze herself into the far end of a very narrow slot between a large metal cylinder and the concrete wall of the cellar, and she crouched there shaking with fear and cold. She could hear from up on the street level the shouts and laughter drifting away across the Square. They had almost had her that time—five men in sailor suits, stamping and kicking and shouting like crazy people. She had been zigzagging this way and that—fool them as to your intention, hope they crash into each other—when a polished black shoe caught her a blow to the ribs that sent her flying across the sidewalk.
So how did she escape?
The way we always escape. By a miracle: the darkness, the rain, a crack in a doorway, a misstep by a pursuer. Pursuit and Escape in America's Oldest Cities. In the scramble of her panic she had managed to get all the way around behind the curved metal thing, so that only a faint glow reached her from the lighted basement, and there she crouched a long time without moving. She closed her eyes against the pain in her side and focused her mind instead on the delicious warmth of the cellar that was rising slowly through her body like a tide. The metal thing was deliciously warm. Its enameled smoothness felt soft, and she pressed her trembling body up against it. Perhaps she slept. Yes, I am sure of it, she slept, and she woke refreshed.
And then, timid and uncertain, she must have crept from her cave out into the room. A faintly humming fluorescent lamp hanging by a pair of twisted wires from the ceiling cast a flickering bluish light on her surroundings. On her surroundings? What a laugh! On my surroundings! For all around her, everywhere she looked, were books. Floor to ceiling against every wall as well as against both sides of a counter-high partition that ran down the center of the room stood unpainted wooden shelves into which rows of books had been jammed to bursting. Other books, mostly taller volumes, had been wedged in flat on top of these, while still others rose in towering ziggurats from the floor or lay in precarious stacks and sloping piles on top of the partition. This warm musty place where she had found refuge was a mausoleum of books, a museum of forgotten treasures, a cemetery of the unread and unreadable. Old leatherbound tomes, cracked and mildewed, rubbed shoulders with cheap newer books whose yellowing pages had gone brown and brittle at the edges. There were Zane Grey westerns by the saddleload, books of lugubrious sermons by the casketful, old encyclopedias, memoirs of the Great War, diatribes against the New Deal, instruction manuals for the New Woman. But of course Flo did not know that these things were books. Adventures on the Planet Earth. I enjoy picturing her as she peers about at this strange landscape—her kind, worn face, her stout body, no, her rotund body, the glittering, hunted eyes, and the cute way she has of wrinkling her nose. Sometimes, just for fun, I put a little blue kerchief on her and knot it at the chin, and then adorable says it all. Mama!
High in one wall were two small windows. The panes were grimed black with soot and hard to see through, but she could make out that it was still night. She could also hear the quickening pace of the traffic in the street and knew from long habit that another workday was set to begin. The shop above would be opening, perhaps people would be coming down the steep wooden steps into the basement. People down the steps, maybe man-people, big feet, big shoes. Thump. She had to hurry, and—let's have this out now—not just because she was not keen on being caught by the sailors and kicked again or worse. She had to hurry especially because of the huge thing that was going on inside of her. Well, not a thing exactly, though there were indeed things inside of her (thirteen of them), more like a process, the sort of happening that people, with their enormous sense of humor, call a Blessed Event. A Blessed Event was about to occur, there was no question about it. The only question is, whose blessed event was it? Hers? Or mine? For most of my life I was convinced it had to have been anybody's but mine. But leaving me aside—oh, if only I could!—and returning to the situation in the basement: there was the Blessed Event on the verge of happening, and the question was what Flo (Mama) was going to do about it.
"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.
Book Description Seix Barral, 2007. Book Condition: New. Nacido en el sótano de una librería en el Boston de los años 60, Firmin aprende a leer devorando las páginas de un libro. Pero una rata culta es una rata solitaria. Marginada por su familia, busca la amistad de su héroe, el librero, y de un escritor fracasado. A medida que Firmin perfecciona un hambre insaciable por los libros, su emoción y sus miedos se vuelven humanos. Original, brillante y llena de alegorías, Firmin derrocha humor y tristeza, encanto y añoranza por un mundo que entiende el poder redentor de la literatura, un mundo que se desvanece dejando atrás una rata con un alma creativa, una amistad excepcional y una librería desordenada. Bookseller Inventory # 1204888
Book Description Seix Barral, 2009. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 8432228249
Book Description Editorial Seix Barral, 2008. Paperback. Book Condition: Brand New. translation edition. 224 pages. Spanish language. 9.00x5.50x0.60 inches. In Stock. Bookseller Inventory # zk8432228249
Book Description SEIX BARRAL EDICIONES, 2007. Book Condition: Nuevo. Nacido en el sótano de una librería en el Boston de los años 60, Firmin aprende a leer devorando las páginas de un libro. Pero una rata culta es una rata solitaria. Marginada por su familia, busca la amistad de su héroe, el librero, y de un escritor fracasado. A medida que Firmin perfecciona un hambre insaciable por los libros, su emoción y sus miedos se vuelven humanos. Original, brillante y llena de alegorías, Firmin derrocha humor y tristeza, encanto y añoranza por un mundo que entiende el poder redentor de la literatura, un mundo que se desvanece dejando atrás una rata con un alma creativa, una amistad excepcional y una librería desordenada. Bookseller Inventory # 2920060073
Book Description Seix Barral. Encuadernación de tapa blanda. Book Condition: Nuevo. Bookseller Inventory # PNT9788432228247
Book Description Seix Barral, 2009. Paperback. Book Condition: New. New item. Bookseller Inventory # QX-189-94-7758487