3 out of 4 stars
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Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles 2000-2016 by William Coles is a set of about 36 short stories including a novella and 2 graphic stories. The stories vary from being very soft and hopeful to being extremely dark and tragic. The complexity of relationships and the reality of situations is common in almost all the stories. Some of them leave us with a very tender feeling and a sense of positivity, innocence and belief in the relationships. Stories such as ‘Dilemma’, ‘Gatemouth Willie Brown on Guitar’, ‘The Cart Boy’ etc. fall under this category.
There still are few stories that are dark, cynical, and leave a sense of violent but true kind of grief in us. Stories such as ‘The Bear’, ‘The Indelible Myth’, ‘Suchin’s escape’, ‘Homunculus’ etc. showcase this. Some stories remind me of Leo Tolstoy way of looking at the world and people in it. It has been stated by many that Tolstoy’s works were not just a work of art, rather pieces of real life. Coles’ works also fall very close to this – real, unpredictable, a sudden small window to a better world… or not.
The target audience of this collection is definitely adults. Some scenes and language used, though lend themselves to the story and the reality that is being depicted; are not for young ones. The paradoxical nature of Father Ryan (in the story with same name), the thought process of Denisse from ‘The Perennial Student’, Mama from ‘The Activist’ etc. – each of these and some more characters – are not easy to analyze and slot. Life is full of twists and so are people. It is not easy to label or understand them. In fact, these stories make us so unsure of ourselves while interacting with people.
The novella ’Sister Carrie’ is a good addition to the collection and as the last one leaves us with hope and trust. It also acts as a reminder to those of us who are ‘know all’ that people are not always as they seem, and life does throw a googly at us.
The graphic attempt at the stories is not very impressive. Overall a compelling collection - gives one food for thought. It is not an easy read in the sense that one can’t jump from one story to another immediately. Each story pushes us to brood, dwell over it and take some time off from the book as well as this world. The editing is very sound and professional. I would rate the book 3 out of 4 .
Thank you for the opportunity
Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016
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