3 out of 4 stars
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Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016 by William H. Coles is a collection of thirty-three short stories, two graphic novels, and one novella. Each work in this collection deals with a variety of plots, such as a teenage girl getting pregnant, a college guy falling in love with an Amish girl, a man picking up a hitchhiker, and even a dwarf in a circus who falls in love. These stories are also accompanied by pictures on their title pages that relate to their plots.
These stories all focus relatively on human flaws and the emotions and motives that drive us to do the things that we do. Coles paints many of his characters in a negative light to reflect the real world characters that we often stumble upon daily, such as the ones who are self-centered, who have affairs, who quickly misjudge the disabled, and racists. Though readers may dislike and even hate these characters, readers will also find how real and relatable they can be.
The author also manages to capture the darker side of reality when it comes to the decisions these characters make and the consequences that follow. For example, one story deals with a man who reflects on his relationship with his late wife who had an affair before she died, and another story that deals with a daughter who suspects that her painter father is having an affair with a model of his paintings. And then there is the novella at the very end of the collection which delves into the relationship between two sisters, one who seeks love and a sense of family and another who struggles with keeping the first sister in check while also battling her own personal demons.
What I really enjoyed about this collection is how real and diverse all of the characters and situations are. My favorite stories in this collection include The Necklace and The Amish Girl. Many of these stories do not have happy endings, which makes the situations more realistic and permanent, but that doesn’t mean that none of these works end happily. I also enjoyed the graphic novels and how they were actually recreations of two of the short stories already written (Homunculus and Reddog). I just only wish that more of the short stories had graphic novel companions. The only problem that this collection suffered from was that there were a few grammatical errors, but those errors can be easily forgiven and overlooked.
I give this book 3 out of 4 stars. Aside from the very few grammatical errors I saw, they did not take away from my enjoyment of each story I read. I think there is something that audiences can take away from each of these stories. It seems that there is something for everyone in this collection, though I will say that these stories are not written for every kind of person to read since many of them deal with subjects such as racism, sexism, death, and abuse, and many of these stories have language not suitable for younger audiences. I recommend this collection to readers age 13 and over.
Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016
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