On Morris Collins's Knockout Debut Novel, "Horse Latitudes," and the Anxiety of Influence, Part 2

So in my review/comments about Kent Wascom’s debut novel The Blood of Heaven I mentioned how the press release hyped it as being similar to Cormac McCarthy, which it is, stylistically, but how I don’t think his feet should be held over that (intense & burning) fire. And with Phillip Meyer’s Texas epic The Son coming out virtually the same time, which has subject-matter similarities to McCarthy, it does seem there’s a herd of All the Little McCarthys stampeding over the literary prairie. But it’s not like McCarthy—great (and my favorite) that he is—is the only writer in the world. There’s a Justice League of great writers out there for others to follow and emulate. I’m reading Dosteyevsky’s Brothers Karamazov (1880) right now, noticing how different the style is from the average North American Scribbler contemporaneous.
And reading Morris Collins’s terrific debut novel, Horse Latitudes, I’m impressed with the influence of Graham Greene on his fiction. You never seem to hear much about Graham Greene anymore, although in his prime, post-WWII, he was considered one of the greats, one of the Big Names. Novels like The Heart of the Matter (1948) and Our Man in Havana (1958) were all the rage. Greene deserves a place in the international company of greats such as Vladimir Nabokov and Joseph Conrad.
Greene’s a Brit, and Morris Collins an American, but Collins picks up on some of the same quirks and scratchy realities of being a less-than-innocent abroad. In Horse Latitudes Collins describes a man from Boston in Latin America, both hanging out and hanging on, and he makes for a 21st century anti-hero in the era of Globalization, trying to do the right thing but not without getting his hands dirty. Horse Latitudes has the best qualities of literary influence: Collins follows a great tradition while reinventing the world with his own individual stamp of originality. Plus he has a bird (and skull) on the cover, to boot.

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