There is a palpable sense, throughout Come West and See, of self-exile. This can come about through geography, due to the isolation of its primary setting. But more significantly, many of Loskutoff’s characters are marked by a self-inflicted psychological exile as well ... The strongest characters in this book are the ones who are most adrift, most ready to latch onto whatever comes next, and this makes them both tragic and dangerous. They have a keen sense of their own separation from an America that is leaving them behind ... And though the collection is an unsettling one, it never achieves that tone cheaply. Loskutoff could easily have played his interior northwest characters for shock value, showing them in a condescending light. But to his credit, he doesn’t take the easy way out. He has an eye for how landscapes shape people and how people shape themselves through the decisions they make and unmake. The characters of Come West and See possess an urgency that gives them weight and consequence, even if most of them are adrift.
Gifted at inhabiting his outsiders and resisters, Loskutoff is also capable of portraying the vulnerability of new parenthood with grace ('Stay Here'). A unique and thoughtful evocation of a past, present, and future West, by a writer whose powerful new voice deserves our attention.
There’s blood. Sadism. Whiskey. Dobermans. Characters with names like Spud, Cass, True and Briar. Minus any supernatural elements, Loskutoff’s is a gothic West ... Fans of Cormac McCarthy and Russell Banks will find plenty to like in Loskutoff's fresh voice and keen instincts for drama. There's a dry wit behind the venom ... And although the narration occasionally commits minor sins of over-explanation, the language is crisp and often thrilling in its plainspoken eloquence.
From a blazing new and original talent, this debut story collection is set in the interior Northwest ... gun-packing characters – ranging from an unemployed carpenter to a military veteran – grapple with their disappointment in Loskutoff’s interlocking stories, which vividly expose escalating resentments with extraordinary eloquence and compassion.
Characters in these stories are made compelling by the rawness of their loneliness and deviancies. They are often riveting in the honesty displayed in their confessions to perversity, or in their unwitting unguardedness about unusual or troubling predilections ... Line-by-line these stories are carried by sharp, vivid prose. The beauty of the natural world often peeks through in spite of the human snarls throwing up static in and around it. Loskutoff has a good eye for the details of the story’s widespread Western locales ... The stories are also admirable for an unflinching gaze upon human alienation, perversity, and depravity that also seems to encompass kindness, understanding, and forgiveness ... One could quibble a bit with the collection’s hazy treatment of the Redoubt and the war...The lawlessness holding sway in some of the later stories, especially emanating from the federal side, seems farfetched ... Still, the effect of this decision may also be viewed as a strength, locating the reader in a provocative place between the two problematic poles and needing to make our own decision about how we might best go forward so as to avoid this outcome, or one anywhere close to it, in our American West.
Loskutoff acknowledges the guidance of his former writing teacher David Foster Wallace, but there is not much of Wallace’s complex layering (or a single footnote, for that matter) in these tales; instead, the governing tutelary spirit is more on the order of Raymond Carver with a little Bill Kittredge and, particularly in that first story, the early Barry Lopez thrown in for leavening. In any event, Loskutoff writes a good sentence, has a fine eye for the meaningful detail, and spins stories that, while certainly not for every taste, are fully realized. A welcome arrival with the promise of good work to come.
Loskutoff sets his slightly disturbing debut collection in an alternate present during a new American Civil War led by libertarian Western separatists ... A persistent focus on sexuality narrows the range of relationships throughout. Nevertheless, Loskutoff’s collection presents a chilling glimpse into a plausible future of ravaged American disunion.
Come West and See, Maxim Luskutoff’s first short story collection, offers a collage of motley characters, some of them survivalists, and many of whom have doubts about themselves and their relationships, despite a veneer of bravado ... Loskutoff’s tales draw readers in, and get us to empathize with characters we may dislike. These are people left behind, men and women with little pride who resort to desperate, self-destructive rebellion. This fiction is truthful in showing what’s at the heart of so much anger in 21st-century America. Let’s hope for more from this promising new author.