I'm happy to reiterate as often as the Joseph G. Peterson publishes a new book, which is often, that Joe is as underappreciated as any great Chicago writer I know. And there are a lot of underappreciated Chicago writers. This could read like a back-handed compliment or even despair about the state of the literary world (and more on the state of the world in a moment). It isn't any of that though. Not everyone breaks as they or we would like them to. Not everyone gets published though either, much less as often or as sucessfully as Joe has. Nor is this Joe bemoaning anything about this career. He never does. But the release of a new book is a time to celebrate what there is and has been. In Joe's case then, I'm here to celebrate his productivity, the sheer amount of words that have accumulated over many years and many books, the poetry and lyricism he brings to those words, especially in those works where he is striving for the poetic - Inside the Whale: A Novel In Verse more specifically, and 99 Bottles less so - his love, appreciation and empathy for the working class and the intellectualism and humor he brings to the page and every conversation. I also want to celebrate or at least illuminate what Peterson has done over the course of his career, though especially so with his lush and latest work The Rumphulus: he gives voice to the isolate, the other and the ignored if not near forgotten. From the start of Joe's writing and the release of Beautiful Piece, a personal favorite of this Peterson completist, Joe has spoken to what it means to be alone in the world, seeking connection and wondering what went wrong and whether it is something the protagonist themselves are the cause of or whether it is society that has in some way conspired against them. Peterson takes it one step further in The Rumphulus, looking at characters who have truly found themselves not only out of step with society, but outside of society, full-stop and banished. Peterson also brings his Petersonesque qualities to the work, characters ruminating on how anyone makes sense of anything, men turning to men for solace and balance and the use of repetition, the ideas swirling around the characters' brains and dialogue until they somehow find if not cogency, acceptance. I would add here, that Peterson's ongoing exploration on the state, and states, of isolation offers a deep-dive into the state of the modern world itself, more connected than ever, yet more separate as well. However, it all feels especially timely and contemporary now, with the endless sweep of COVID-19 washing over us, keeping us home, apart from our family and friends, and away from people at large. Most of us have never experienced this kind of isolation, though if we have been reading Peterson all along we might be more prepared for it than most. Will The Rumphulus change your life? Certainly, of course. It's Joe Peterson we're talking about. More importantly though, will it allow you to reflect on who and what we are now? Yes, most definitely.