Horse Lat­i­tudes

Morris Collins

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews Adult Fiction - MICHELLE ANNE SCHINGLER

Dzanc Books (JAN­UARY) Soft­cover $16.95 (344pp) 978-1-945814-76-1

Its char­ac­ters tram­ple through lands on the brink of mad­ness in search of some­thing cer­tain; its im­ages are vi­o­lent, heart­break­ing, and starkly real. Morris Collins’s Horse Lat­i­tudes is a his­tor­i­cally at­tuned novel for a world that has lost its way.

Ethan is a pho­tog­ra­pher who has trained him­self not to see ev­ery truth. He did not see that his wife, Sa­man­tha, was drift­ing some­where per­ilous; he does not see that es­cap­ing to Cen­tral Amer­ica, es­pe­cially to a coun­try al­ways on the cusp of a coup, is not the so­lu­tion to his re­gret.

In hu­mid Gu­atemala, hor­rors await—in­clud­ing those set into mo­tion by vi­cious, mo­men­tary al­lies who con­spire to steal chil­dren in the night. In a bor­der brothel, Ethan en­coun­ters Yolanda, who res­cues him from death in ex­change for a fa­vor, to be ful­filled far­ther south.

The text high­lights the un­speak­able cru­el­ties that peo­ple visit upon one an­other: “they want to feel some hurt so much greater than their own. They want some­thing … they can break, ir­repara­bly break, and then walk away from.” Women and chil­dren are traf­ficked, lied to, and vi­o­lated, all while they hold out for the glit­ter­ing pos­si­bil­ity of a bet­ter life over the bor­der. De­tails here are re­al­is­tic, and their warn­ings are somber.

When it comes to Ethan’s own story, the strokes are more sur­re­al­is­tic, even im­pre­cise, whor­ling around con­cepts like grief and vengeance with­out land­ing any­where con­crete. He is re­sent­ful of sto­ries of un­bear­able suf­fer­ing if it is not of the spe­cific kind that could help him un­der­stand Sa­man­tha bet­ter. His be­comes a ragged trek built on bro­ken mo­ti­va­tions, whose po­ten­tially re­demp­tive acts carry no real pos­si­bil­ity of a clean slate.

Stum­bling to­ward night­mare re­al­iza­tions, Horse Lat­i­tudes is a novel with the edge of the thriller and the bleak raw­ness of a doc­u­men­tary—feral, need­ful, and un­apolo­getic about the dark un­der­bel­lies it re­veals.

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