In “The Philosopher Savant Crosses the River,” Rustin Larson now winds his words several notches closer to a phantom sense of the certainties we once thought we could assume — the way life promised a few solid things, perhaps “the purpose of life,” which now seems sold door to door as “an abrupt change,” if anything. Words in their ordinary sense have been released from those customary connections, and often seem spoken from a place of floating far below meaning’s surface, as if a sedimentia abounding in the reasoning of tea leaves or some other structure of correspondence beyond our normal grasp were sending messages to the surface of the page. And yet we are inclined to wholly accept their truths, given who the sayer is. Even adrift on this raft of free-floating words, the voice, the tone, the presence of Rustin Larson is moored in every line — the dark humor, the human suffering and human song, the impingement of childhood memories, the direct gaze at the sane absurdity of the world, have only gained ground. “Philip Glass articulates / our brains in music,” he says, and with a craft of impeccable syntax that holds onto the same roots as Bishop’s or Larkin’s, he, too, articulates those deeply patterned structures that give us hope and keep us here, reading on.
— Audrey Bohanan
I wish you the best, Rustin. Again, congratulations on yet another finest-kind book!