2 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
To mangle a cliche', books are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get. William H. Coles book, Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016 is kind of like that chocolate you hope has the caramel center but ends up being a truffle. This is great if you like truffles, but a little disappointing if you were looking forward to caramel. If you like reading modern short fiction, then it's all chocolate anyway.
The writing is good, smooth, with believable dialogue taking place between complex characters in plausible settings. Each story is unique, with details being drizzled through the text to help unfold a surprising twist at the end. Some of the surprises do not leave a good taste in your mouth, and you are left uncomfortable and wondering if you dare sample any more. The very real, and oh so poignant emotions of loss, loneliness, betrayal, doubt, fear, anger and disappointment seem to be the focus of many of the stories, and the author skillfully brings the reader to experience these emotions with his characters.
The illustrations at the beginning of each story are edgy and dark. The artwork has a cartoon-like quality, with garish colors and strong lines. While it is technically correct in many cases, it would not be considered beautiful and reflects the uncomfortable feelings that are evoked through the storytelling. I would have to say that the art was probably the thing I liked the least about this book, even though it appears to be integral to the work as a whole.
The editing of the book left something to be desired as there were quite a few punctuation and grammatical errors throughout. The work as a whole reflects a maturing author, showcasing the development of grammatical skill and complexity in storytelling. The emotional punch the author evokes is real; you cannot walk away from one of these stories without engaging with it. I liked this aspect of the book the most, even though the feelings evoked were usually negative.
As someone who prefers the sweetness of caramel to the bitterness of dark chocolate, I would have to rate this book 2 out of 4 stars as the emotions that were aroused by this book were vividly bitter and melancholy, and left a strong negative impression. The sexual content is gratuitous at times and somewhat formulaic, seemingly added in as though you could not write a modern short fiction story without it. This book would definitely appeal to those who like darker themes and genres but is maybe not something a light or more classical reader would enjoy.
Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon | on iTunes | on Smashwords
Like Clemens Nickleby's review? Post a comment saying so!