4 out of 4 stars
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Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles is an award-winning collection of short fiction stories by William H. Coles. Thirty-one short stories, two graphic novels, and one novella, written between 2000 and 2016, make up the book. The stories span a wide range of subjects, but they often examine the conditioning of the human psyche. The stories do an excellent job of depicting the true-to-life struggles of everyday living. Unfortunately, that means science-fiction elements are markedly absent.
Collectively, the story-telling is impeccable. One of my favorites, the bear, which I found to be uncharacteristically short, managed to maintain the excitement of a thriller, despite its brevity. The story is about three relatives that went out hunting in the winter. They checked the snares and found two were empty, but one of the spring loaders had a small hind leg in the clamp claws. The rest of its body had been ripped off. A few moments later, Sean, the youngest one, spots a bear. Shortly afterward, the bear bears down upon them, and it’s soon a matter of survival.
Another noteworthy aspect of the stories is how they highlight the fragility of human relationships. This theme comes out strongly in the gift, speaking of the dead, the wreck of the Amtrak’s silver service, and lost papers. In the wreck of the Amtrak’s silver service, Heinrick Clever is a doctor who was married to his wife for thirty-two years. When Heinrick cheats on his wife with Penny Pram, they couldn’t reconcile their relationship, despite Agnes (his wife) having understood and forgiven him. He had this fiery resentment against his wife because her felicity seemed limitless, and he hated it.
Where will Heinrick’s animosity against his wife lead him? Will he divorce his wife, or will it lead him down a sinister path? Reading this story was a delightful experience. The author’s clever use of prognostics made me anxious about getting to that pivotal moment when a character’s decision affected the outcome of the story massively. Ultimately, there were lots of unexpected twists in the way the author narrated the stories, and despite long read, it was entertaining and thought-provoking.
My verdict on this book is affirmative to the quality of the stories inside. I loved the uniqueness of each story. The author reused some character names inside the book, but I was never confused about their roles. The characters were distinct, which attests to the thoughtfulness invested by the author as he planned about the characters.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars principally because the stories were entertaining and well written. The errors I encountered were intentional: in the quest to capture the nuances of grammar among demographics, the author had to make some grammatical sacrifices. The stories are equally suitable for all kinds of readers, but it does make use of expletives that may not appeal to some. I heartily recommend this book to readers that love reading short stories. I also discourage children from reading due to mature content and the use of obscenities.
Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016
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