Originally published in Willow Springs 72
From the author
Notes on “Prey”
The idea came from a true story. A friend of a friend woke up in bed with his giant snake. I never met the guy and only heard the thirty second version, but still, it was helpful. It’s one of the first short stories I ever finished, so to have that thread of truth gave me confidence. To know I could get as weird as I wanted because, hey, real life is even weirder. Much of my writing I’ve done since then continues to explore the relationships we form with wild animals. How we want them to love us and guide us when—in my experience—the very thing that draws us to them is their essential wildness: the fact that they’d just as soon chew your leg off and drag it into the woods as snuggle.
Growing up, I was exposed to a great deal of Native American literature and folklore, and I always found the role animals play incredibly beautiful. Then I’d read in the local newspaper about some dude who tried to pet a bison and got trampled. There’s a tension there that I love, and more than anything in my work, I want to feel that awe of the wild, that shivering feeling you get when you walk a little too far and night is coming.
Notes on Reading
Honestly, I have a somewhat mixed relationship with reading. Growing up in small-town Montana, I read voraciously and it was purely a pleasure. Earth-shaking discoveries on the regular, running from Salinger and Hemingway to Didion and Carver—tears and getting turned upside down. I read a book called Warlock when I first got to college that made me want to run through a wall. That much joy.
Now, it’s become work in some respects. I’m so aware of the seams, the joints, trying to figure out how a story works, that it can burn me out, and only really really special stuff retains that transportive power. And I have to be careful of the really, really special stuff too, because I can be such a mimic. If I read too much Cormac, too much DFW, too much Denis Johnson or Lydia Davis, I start to sound like them. Or, to put it right, I start to sound like a pale, flailing imitation. So reading can be a fraught experience. All that being said, I do read. Most recently, I stumbled on a book of Kafka’s parables—absolutely killer. I sit down with them and never want to emerge.
About Maxim Loskutoff
Maxim Loskutoff grew up in Missoula, Montana. After graduating from Pomona College, he worked in hospitals in Dallas and Chicago, on campaign trails, and in the Middle East. He holds an MFA from NYU, where he was a Veteran’s Writing Fellow. He’s received fellowships from the Jentel Arts Colony, Caldera Art Center, and NYU Abu Dhabi. His stories have been published or are forthcoming in Narrative Magazine, Witness, Hobart, and The Minnesota Review, among other publications.