Review of Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016

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Adrienne Abad
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Latest Review: Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016 by William H. Coles

Review of Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016

Post by Adrienne Abad »

[Following is a volunteer review of "Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016" by William H. Coles.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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Thirty-six of William H. Coles's original stories are featured in this classical title. Published independently on June 2016, Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016 takes us back to the 70's, 50's and even as far as the 17th century where we are introduced to Jean-Luc, the son of an ironmonger who is just learning the trade and already facing the reality of caring for his sick mother, Charlotte, whom he loves more than life itself. His father is violently attacked by revolutionaries who comes to his shop looking for weapons. Being denied by their demands, they burn down the place leaving him inside to perish. His last words to the young Jean-Luc, which he managed to say with half of his face charred, is "...take care of your mother, son. She is a good woman." Determined but without any money, Jean-Luc, being instructed by a faith healer known and respected by the people of their town, sets out for the Cathedral near Dieppe to pray to Saint Marcouf, known to have cured a girl from a long time ago. They travel the road on foot, with his mother on his back and seeking a miracle. While foraging for berries, they meet Emile, who really is a musician but is now only selling goat's cheese and milk for a living. His lute broke and after finding out about Jean-Luc's ability to work with iron, he agrees to let them ride in his cart in exchange for a repair of his instrument. From then on, much miracles had taken place; from Emile's playing music once again, to the healing of Charlotte's sickness and the encounter of a lively child who had lost both parents to the revolutionaries. Emile, Jean-Luc, Charlotte and the newest member of their gang, Sapphire, tour the city sharing the miracle of singing and dancing. In a time of great turmoil and unrest, the story of The Miracle of Madame Villard teaches us that the greatest miracle is indeed, our sacred bond to each other. The miracle is us coming together as a people and enjoying a life of happiness and health.

I appreciate the dark-adapted characters I have met in these stories. Characters that may easily be perceived as pure evil and malevolent until you get to know them more and realize how capable of goodness even these people can be. One example I can think of is Harry. The nature of his work alongside his cousin, Antoine, is too despicable for words. Their job is to transport a Chinese kid they had just picked up from a ship. On their way to deliver the girl, they get into an argument that leads to an accident. The car is smoking. Antoine runs for his life while Harry goes back for Suchin who is taped and without a chance to go out. I'd like to think that Harry's decision of saving Suchin is not driven by business matters but by his sympathy for another human being. I find the ending beautiful, the way Harry achieves redemption through Suchin's Escape. There is a technique in painting which I will liken to the theme of this story; for a light color to stand out, one must paint it over the darkest shade. Of such is the nature of these narratives wherein the characters' light, however faint, is made visible through the darkest shadow of imperfect situation brought about by adversity and unhappiness.

This print would have been perfect if not for the multiple errors that I have found while reading, most of which are misspelled words and character's names such as Pearlstein to Pearlstien and Corrie to Clorrie. For this reason, I see it fair to give this book a rating of 3 out of 4 stars. Otherwise, I find it a very pleasurable read.

I am happy to recommend this work of art to my friends and every person I know who loves to hear a good story. The other night, I read to Josh Dilemma — one of my favorite stories in this collection — even my dear husband, who is more of a 'movie person' than a 'book person', likes it! "Only a page in length but it has everything", he says.

If you are not much of a reader but still appreciate stories, you may find it helpful to visit where you can listen to an audiobook version of the stories in this book, read and produced by the author himself! Surely, a story or two will appeal to you as it did to me.

Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016
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“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge
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