By Lynette G Esposito
anvilhead by Rustin Larson is fifty-seven pages of fictionalized poetry written from the viewpoint of an alien child left on the doorstep of unsuspecting humans in the middle of freezing weather. It is speculative fiction written from the alien’s viewpoint with the fresh insight of some creature seeing things for the first time and finding them strange, beautiful and perhaps untruthful. The whole tome reads as if it were a long poem with many extended metaphors.
Larson has created a world where the reader feels he, too, is an Anvilhead and yet normal whatever normal means. Larson uses a narrative voice that is both sympathetic and realistic. The book begins by skillfully introducing the narrator after giving an ants metaphor to set up the tone of the book.
I was an alien baby left on my human parent’s
front porch in a vented aluminum pet transport box
on January 1st, 1960. It was cold, but I was not frozen.
The reader has a specific time and a specific place and a specific situation…an abandoned baby in need. When the alien baby cries in its strange, no, as Lardon says, eerie cry, his soon-to-be human mother hollers at her husband, Orville, what the hell was that? The humans, of course, bring the baby inside and raise it as their own even though as the little one grows, his alien features become more prominent. The most obvious alien feature is that he has an Anvilhead. This begins the rather irreverent narrative of baby Anvilhead as he matures. The tone is set in both a realistic and fantastical mood where the reader can easily adjust to the suspension of disbelief technique. This odd foreign baby is real. Larson illustrates this by using people coming over to be social and seeing the baby. When people come to visit, their reaction was obvious.
By the time I was four, my head had grown to the
shape and size of a blacksmith’s anvil. When my
father brought employees over from his dealership
for a drink, their conversations shushed at the sight
How many times has a regular human looked at another human’s baby and thought Not so cute –. or worse? The situation here rings too true and too judgmental.
In another instance, Larson presents another realistic scenario with the alien baby.
What’s your name, honey? Thelma the secretary
asked me. She was a kind woman with a strong
stomach. Her son, Babby, who was about my age,
had cerebral palsy.
It is an interesting mix of common situation and commentary that can make a reader feel a little uncomfortable. This mixture of common human situations where Anvilhead observes and reacts helps the reader to see reality in many different lights.
I found the book a little hard to follow in some places, but it creates an interesting approach on how the world is viewed from a different perspective while illustrating clearly the human psyche, and condition, Anvilhead is a volume a reader might like to look at more than once to receive its full impact. It is interesting, creative and a bit different.
Lynette G. Esposito has been an Adjunct Professor at Rowan University, Burlington County and Camden County Colleges. She has taught creative writing and conducted workshops in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Mrs. Esposito holds a BA in English from the University of Illinois and an MA in Creative Writing and English Literature from Rutgers University.