College of Arts and Sciences

History Professor Publishes Short Stories in Prestigious Literary Magazines  

Headshot of Maxim Matusevich, Professor of HistoryProfessor Maxim Matusevich, Director of the Russian and East European Studies Program, has published short stories in the New England Review, Fatal Flaw Literary Magazine and The Museum of Americana: A Literary Review.

Professor Matusevich published "Bar Beach Police Station" in the New England Review, one of the nation's leading literary magazines.

Sponsored by Middlebury College, the New England Review has long been affiliated with the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, described by The New Yorker as "the oldest and most prestigious writers' conference in the country."

For Matusevich, the publication of "Bar Beach Police Station" follows the publication of another short story in the New England Review, "The Road to Battambang."

Earlier, Matusevich published "Arthur or Night on Earth" in the famed literary journal, The Kenyon Review.

In "Bar Beach Police Station," a story about a trip he took as a graduate student to Nigeria in 1999, Matusevich writes:

"The first few weeks in Nigeria were surreal, exhausting, maddening, exciting. The place was outrageously corrupt, palpably dangerous, and, in the aftermath of Abacha’s demise, overflowing with wild political rumors. But I also kept meeting the most wonderful and warm people, who were eager to take me under their wing and help me out in any way they could. The mixture of dysfunction, brutality, and generosity would’ve been disorienting had it not been so familiar. In many ways, it felt like my native Russia. Strangely, Nigeria proved to be easier for me to figure out than the US (still a work in progress)."

Later in the piece Matusevich recounts his visit to the Bar Beach police station, where an acquaintance of his was being held in detention. Matusevich writes:

"The stench inside the station was overpowering. I looked at the security chief, wondering if he smelled what I smelled. By all outward signs he didn’t, appearing just as calm and poised as he did every morning when I greeted him at the institute’s entrance. It was difficult to reconcile his Victorian formality with the spatial and aesthetic confusion of our surroundings, with those offensive smells. But he remained calm, as Isaac remained calm in the Spanish jail, as Alex remained calm at the wheel of his Audi, while conveying a stack of banknotes into the waiting palms of a traffic police officer. How does one preserve this sort of serenity in the face of a world that offends, and disappoints, and makes mockery of morality?"

In addition to his most recent publication in the New England Review, Professor Matusevich has also recently published pieces in Fatal Flaw Literary Magazine and The Museum of Americana: A Literary Review.

In Fatal Flaw he published "Red Dress," and in The Museum of Americana, "The Billboard."

In "The Billboard," a story about a chance encounter with an elderly cashier in rural Pennsylvania, he writes:

"Her name tag says 'Gracemarie' and I’m guessing she must be in her mid-eighties. Not the bouncy, senior village-residing, golf cart-driving, bingo-playing, Caribbean-cruising eighties, but the heavy-duty eighties that make it necessary to continue one’s employment as a cashier at Walmart. Her movements are slow and deliberate, and I smile, make a show of assuring her: 'No rush, no rush at all, take your time.' She wears a simple surgical mask, and I’m not certain if she smiles back. I choose to think that she does. It’s better to think that she does.

Back in the Soviet Union, women retired at fifty-five, which was a weirdly early age to call it quits. But then again, in the USSR, the age thing was all screwed up. My battalion commander, Major Kustov, was a sad 42-year-old alcoholic who looked ancient—his skin was parched, his watery blue eyes blinked with a visible effort. Someone told me he died 'of old age,' still in his forties, soon after my discharge. My mom had me at the age of twenty-eight and when she went into labor the maternity ward doctor wrote down 'geriatric pregnancy' (старородящая) in her medical history. I first got married and became a father at twenty-one and that was considered normal. Most of the women I knew were married by the age of twenty, those who were not were probably getting nervous. But it’s not necessarily because of this peculiar Soviet ageism that Gracemarie’s continuing affiliation with Walmart ('Save people money so they can live better') saddens me so. Is she that lonely? Does she need the money? Likely yes to both questions, and that’s sad and depressing, and an accusatory strike against the fictional city on a hill."

New England Review, "Bar Beach Police Station."

Fatal Flaw Literary Magazine, "Red Dress."

The Museum of Americana, "The Billboard."

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