Resounds: Maxim Loskutoff

Nov 12, 2019

Maxim Loskutoff at the YPR studios
Credit Anna Paige

Maxim Loskutoff was raised in small towns in the west. His award-winning stories and essays have appeared in numerous periodicals as well as anthologies in the United States and abroad. He lives in the Rocky Mountains of western Montana.

In an isolated region of Idaho, Montana, and eastern Oregon, an armed occupation of a wildlife refuge escalates into civil war. Against this backdrop, Come West and See shatters the myths of the West. The twelve stories in this collection expose the simmering rage and resentments of small-town America. Maxim Loskutoff’s debut short story collection was a co-winner with Thomas McGuane’s collection Cloudburst for the 2019 High Plains Book Award.  

Maxim Loskutoff’s compelling short story collection, Come West and See is both an invitation and a warning. The stories examine the struggles and desire of young men to control their environment, women, politics, and ultimately their future.

Come West and See
Credit courtesy Maxim Loskutoff

  Loosely based on the real 2016 standoff at the Bundy Occupation in Oregon's Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Come West and See is made up of linked stories set in isolated regions of Montana and Idaho, refuges for armed survivalists, radical libertarians, and religious separatists.

The first story, "The Dancing Bear," set in the Montana Territories, 1893, serves as a prelude to the contemporary stories that follow.  It clearly foreshadows themes of solitude; control, or lack thereof; violence; and sexuality. The recurring metaphor is clear and sadly all-too familiar: young white men desperately trying to control everything around him and destroying it in the process. Aware of an unjust social structure, they are unable to put their anger and personal failures into any sort of action that could save them or help them find a place in life in the modern West.

These stories address how segregated life in America has become; fragile male egos unsure of their own abilities yet possessing a clear sense of right and entitlement, and guns.

Throughout the collection, Maxim writes about a wild aggressive, yet lonely environment, much different from city life.  It is curious how tenderly Loskutoff writes about his characters, vivid in their convictions, dreams and regrets.  He is a subtle, but masterful creator of character and story.

Most of the characters in these stories are less than admirable, trustworthy or noble, yet Loskutoff masterly paints their angst, and readers will recognize them all.