4 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
The “Illustrated Short Fiction” by William H.Coles is a collection of thirty three short stories, two graphic novels and a novella – Sister Carry. The stories have been gathered during 2000 – 2016 and this amount of time reflects perfectly the care and professionalism used to finalize the work.
Each short story has an introductory image related to its content. I must say I did not particularly enjoyed these illustrations, and while entertaining, I am not sure of their purpose and significance in the book. The two graphic novels, based on two of the short stories – Homunculus and Reddog – were done quite well and they managed to follow the narrative line of the stories. I would have appreciated more care with some of the illustrations, as it can be a bit confusing when the characters are expressing inner thoughts.
However, the writing was excellent. I can truly understand why the author has received awards for some of the stories. All of them are masterfully crafted. The writing technique is simple, linear, which only serves to emphasize the raw human emotions stirred by the stories. The author manages to create a very vivid description of the surroundings and of the characters and the images are quite beautiful.
The theme of the stories is rather universal, dealing mostly with human suffering and overcoming. The settings are extremely diverse, stretching over many continents and countries (there are stories located in France, India, different parts of USA), as well as over an extend period of time (from the French revolution to the present).
Most of the stories managed to evoke powerful feelings. It’s impressive how in just a few pages the author succeeded to create such a bond between the reader and the characters. For me, the most shocking story (to be honest, I don’t advise you to read it, unless you are prepared to be impacted for the rest of the day) was Dilemma. This is the story of a doctor who must decide if he should save his son's life, given the troubling circumstances. The thought process is very natural and real, which is something I noticed in most of the stories.
It’s hard to choose a favorite, but I will go with Big Gene. Perhaps that’s because it’s one of the few stories that is optimistic and that ends on a positive note. My least favorite story was The Bear. This was a very short story and it was the only one where the character’s actions were not understandable. I think the story should be a little longer to offer more context and a better insight to the character’s personalities.
The novella Sister Carrie was a beautiful read about loss and growing up, and is, in my opinion, the crown jewel of the collection.
All this being said, I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I feel it’s a well-deserved rating and I would recommend this lecture for the force of the emotions it creates. I would personally drop the illustrations, but that’s just my opinion.
Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon | on iTunes | on Smashwords
Like MidnightBasm's review? Post a comment saying so!