4 out of 4 stars
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The Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles 2000-2016 is a fascinating read. It grips readers’ attention so they never want to put it down, but allows for necessary mental breaks between the expertly written length of each story. This collection of short stories is long at over 400 pages, but it is a thrilling read through stories that teach a lesson with each twist of phrase. This book is comprised of 34 short stories—two of which are graphic novels—and a novella. Readers can gain a better understanding and appreciation for Coles’ genius by the inclusion of the three writing forms.
William H. Coles’ collection can be thought of as a modern day Grimms’ Fairy Tales. While every story has a life lesson, they are definitely not meant for children. Each story tackles a mature issue from relationships and identity to human trafficking and suicide. Coles has an amazing way with words that captivates the reader and takes them into the world of the characters right away. Even though the stories are short, the reader is taken on an emotional journey and left to contemplate some of life’s most prominent (and sometimes disturbing) issues at the end of each read.
Each story is expertly written using precise, elevated diction and imagery to guide the reader through an intense read in just a few minutes. Coles’ uses the perfect balance of colloquial language, vocabulary, and descriptive and precise imagery appropriate to the setting and characters in each story so as to help the reader immediately immerse in the content and emotional journey. In each story, the characters are clearly described and the settings are quickly established with ample detail to captivate the reader right away so he or she may engage with the story right away.
While this collection is expertly executed, the title may be misleading. The main “illustration” comes from the cover of each story. These illustrations are interpretive and can add to the meaning of a story after reading it, but they do not spoil any plot. Additionally, there are a few illustrations at the ends of some stories scattered throughout the collection, but overall, these illustrations do not make it feel like an “illustrated” set of stories. The graphic novels are also illustrated, but that is the nature of that writing style; therefore, the title of the collection being illustrated is true, but not typical for an illustrated book.
I rate this collection 4 out of 4. It is precise and tackles important, heavy topics that people face everyday. I recommend this collection for adults as the themes are mature, but it is captivating and expertly written using detailed diction and imagery to hook the reader right away. Additionally, by the nature of it being a collection, the Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles 2000-2016 allows readers to pause between stories, but why would they want to?
Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016
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