Review by powderblue -- Illustrated Short Fiction of Wil...

This forum is for volunteer reviews by members of our review team. These reviews are done voluntarily by the reviewers and are published in this forum, separate from the official professional reviews. These reviews are kept separate primarily because the same book may be reviewed by many different reviewers.
Post Reply
User avatar
powderblue
Posts: 16
Joined: 04 Nov 2015, 14:39
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 66
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-powderblue.html
Latest Review: Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016 by William H. Coles

Review by powderblue -- Illustrated Short Fiction of Wil...

Post by powderblue » 13 Jun 2018, 21:34

[Following is a volunteer review of "Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016" by William H. Coles.]
Book Cover
4 out of 4 stars
Share This Review


"A short story is a different thing altogether: a short story is like a kiss in the dark from a stranger." Stephen King said that, probably in his essay on horror fiction Danse Macabre, to explain how novels are more like a full-blown relationship, in which we get to "live" with the characters for a long time and, therefore, we get to know them well. A short story, however, just gives us a glimpse, a fleeting moment in someone's life. We never really get to know the characters too well, just have a brief moment. Like a kiss in the dark from a stranger.

The short story is a genre I personally enjoy a lot, precisely because of what Mr. King says: the joy of a moment of magic, a small vignette in someone's life, a strange, interesting or important anecdote about an event. And, because of the format itself, short stories are usually more concerned with either anecdote or mood than with character, and that suits me just fine.

Strangely enough, I found myself thinking about that quote above a lot while reading William H. Coles's Illustrated Short Fiction, precisely because they seem to work in the opposite way: the anecdotes themselves are always less important than the characters we are presented with.

My initial reaction, upon reading the first story, called "The Gift", was of slight rejection, to be honest. It's a peculiar story because it covers a very long period in the life of the protagonists and, when I reached the end, there was no real sense of closure. It felt as if the story could have ended at any other moment. But then I closed the book, went to do a few things and, hours later, I found myself thinking about those wonderful characters. Somehow, they had stayed with me. And that was a strange and delightful feeling, as if the author had sneaked up on me and while I thought I was reading about some events, I ended up knowing and caring about some people.

The wonderful thing about this book is that this did not just happen with one story, or just a few of them. It's a constant throughout the collection. Some of the stories are more fleshed out, some are actually very good and would stand on their own even with less interesting characters. Some actually feel too short and a bit incomplete. But what we always have here is superb character development. The Stephen King quote is not only adequate but opportune here: he is one of my favorite writers mostly because of how brilliantly he creates and presents characters to us. But King takes his time (and words) to flesh them out. Mr. Coles manages to create complex, deep and unforgettable characters in remarkable short time, and he does it in such a crafty way, with such elegant prose that, even when, after reading a few stories, you get a feel for how he does it, it is still effective and an utter pleasure to experience it.

Characters never exist in a vacuum, though, and the reason they are so memorable is that the relationships among them are drawn with a lot of honesty, insight and an unflinching look, even at awkward and strange moments. So is the author's take on the subject matters he deals with, which are varied and encompass different historical periods, places and socioeconomic groups. It doesn't matter if the story is, ultimately, uplifting and joyful, or if it's sad, gruesome or bleak: Coles will stay with the characters and follow them along, showing us what they do, feel and think. We may not always like what we see, and we may find ourselves mentally arguing with them. But, after all, what better feeling is there than that?

The book is "illustrated" for two reasons, I presume. On the one hand, there are always one or two illustrations accompanying the stories. I found some of them beautiful and a few a perfect image for what the stories represented. There are also two stories that are also narrated in comic form. I did not enjoy the format at all, and I thought it took away from both stories or characters.

Still, I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. It is a superb collection of stories and I would recommend it, not only to anyone who likes short stories, but to anyone who likes spending a bit of time with interesting, realistic and unforgettable characters.

******
Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon | on iTunes | on Smashwords

Like powderblue's review? Post a comment saying so!

User avatar
Sen_Suzumiya
Posts: 308
Joined: 02 Aug 2018, 11:35
2019 Reading Goal: 50
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 4
2018 Reading Goal: 50
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 56
Currently Reading: Dark Places
Bookshelf Size: 67
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-sen-suzumiya.html
Latest Review: Painting with Words by Ian Prattis

Post by Sen_Suzumiya » 01 Sep 2018, 18:59

Thank you for your wonderful review, I also think this collection is a manifest of the art of short stories.
“All the secrets of the world are contained in books. Read at your own risk.”
― Lemony Snicket

User avatar
Laura Bach
Posts: 496
Joined: 25 Mar 2018, 11:32
Favorite Book: The Book Thief
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 608
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-laura-bach.html
Latest Review: The Mystery Of Flight 2222 by Thomas Neviaser

Post by Laura Bach » 10 Jan 2019, 00:21

You gave this book a beautiful meaning that I wished I saw when I read it myself. Congrats on this wonderful review!

User avatar
Nerea
Posts: 373
Joined: 11 May 2018, 05:13
2018 Reading Goal: 10
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 80
Currently Reading: The Warramunga's War
Bookshelf Size: 141
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-nerea.html
Latest Review: Health Tips, Myths, and Tricks by Morton E Tavel, MD

Post by Nerea » 11 Jan 2019, 06:45

The book is beautifully summarised and analyzed in your review. I've read some of Cole's books and they are incredible. I'll try this one and enjoy as you did. Awesome review.
"Regular reading improves your grammar."

Willy 1
Posts: 127
Joined: 24 Dec 2018, 07:06
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 20
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-willy-1.html
Latest Review: All the Targets by Noah Bond

Post by Willy 1 » 26 Jan 2019, 13:53

You did such a good job reviewing this book with lots of different stories. But I think my favourite will be The Gift. Good review.

User avatar
ma_mon28
Posts: 92
Joined: 09 Jan 2019, 23:46
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 5
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-ma-mon28.html
Latest Review: Of Zots and Xoodles by Zarqnon the Embarrassed

Post by ma_mon28 » 02 Feb 2019, 05:10

Interesting book! You have a very detailed review.

Olaoluwa_oso
Posts: 80
Joined: 02 Feb 2019, 14:42
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 15
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-olaoluwa-oso.html
Latest Review: Sigfried’s Smelly Socks! by Len Foley

Post by Olaoluwa_oso » 08 Feb 2019, 07:56

Though it contained lots of short stories, you did a good review job on this book. Nice!!

User avatar
ma_mon28
Posts: 92
Joined: 09 Jan 2019, 23:46
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 5
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-ma-mon28.html
Latest Review: Of Zots and Xoodles by Zarqnon the Embarrassed

Post by ma_mon28 » 11 Feb 2019, 22:09

Nice review with this book of many stories. You excerpt well the highlights of the book that gives a summary of what the book will be.

Post Reply

Return to “Volunteer Reviews”