the short story project

End Times

Tal Nitzán On:

End Times by Maxim Loskutoff

Every literature lover is familiar with the long-awaited feeling, a certainty, from the very first line, that one is in the presence of a talent, the best that literature can offer. I was bestowed this rare feeling when I started reading Maxim Loskutoff’s story. “End Times” is a twist on the traditional travel story genre by the hand of an undoubtedly gifted writer. Nature, and zoology in particular, have a prominent presence in Lostukoff’s stories. In “End Times” a couple wolfs down the vast planes stretching between states (in the US) on their way to a vet, who might save the life of an unusual pet – a coyote, a prairie wolf. The coyote serves at least three purposes. It’s a live animal, illustrated faithfully and realistically, but it’s also the vertex in an emotional triangle. There are many commonalities between the coyote and the girl. She is described as having “animalistic” features, and the emotional bond between the two is not without erotic subtext, contrary to the hostility between the coyote and storyteller. The coyote is also a wonderful symbolic element, as the impending death in the backseat is parallel to the dying relationship between the couple. Although this is a story with a foreseen end, it is tense and suspenseful, and eventually manages to escape the predictable. Much like the title, it expands beyond the boundaries of the specific narrative.