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 a novella. Coles, without a doubt, has a deep understanding of human emotions and a keen eye for detail. Every story is an intense narrative of the things love, anger, fear, apprehension and grief makes us do.
Through the pages you will find yourself becoming a part of the lives of a woman who gives birth to a deformed child, children who sit through the trial of their father accused of killing their mother, a mother grieving over her daughter’s stillborn, a young girl attempting to escape from the clutches of child traffickers and various other protagonists fighting odds and their inner demons. The impeccable portrayal of human emotions is authentic in every sense. Both the narrative and the dialogue are written with complete attention to detail.
The novella, Sister Carrie, was my favourite from this book. Carrie moves in with her elder sister Jessie after their parents die. Unhappy with the arrangements at first, Jessie soon comes to love Carrie and feels responsible for her well-being. When Carrie falls in love with a Persian guy, the relationship between the sisters starts getting sour. Love and loyalty is put to test as the story unfolds. Other stories that really moved me were ‘The Cart Boy’, a heart-warming story of a disabled man who brings joy to a petty job and those around him, and ‘Lost Papers’, a sad account from the life of a man whose affections force him to make an unfortunate decision.
The book also has some not-so-perfect elements. The two graphic novels are scarcely appealing and slightly confusing. They are graphical representations of two short stories and would have been hard to follow without the text version. The narrative style of ‘Gatemouth Willie Brown on Guitar’ has a vernacular touch and should have been restricted to the dialogues only. There are a few typing errors as well.
Lastly, this book is not for those looking for twisted plots and startling revelations. These short stories will seldom leave you gasping in horror or awe. There are no surprising endings either. These are simple stories written with a profound understanding of human emotions which brings every character to life. Readers who appreciate good writing are sure to love this book.
I will give this book 3 out of 4 stars because, despite the occasional bumps, my journey with this book was absolutely delightful.
Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016
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