3 out of 4 stars
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From what I have just read, William H. Cole is a literary genius. And the stories in his collection have just the right balance of mood and content to please even the most skeptical of readers. And I think I know the secret. Perhaps, he is some sort of creative writing instructor as it seems his already established works suggest just so.
But for reference’s sake, the actual book title presently under review reads: Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles 2000 – 2016 with emphasis on the ‘illustrated’, for me at least because that was exactly what first caught my attention. And for good measure his illustrating collaborators didn’t disappoint. And I could have sworn I recognized the handiwork of one of them who was a childhood favorite of mine, he contributed the plate for the Amish girl story.
Asides from the art, the stories were highly imaginative and skillfully told. After reading the book, I sort of felt star struck and I’m thinking I ought to re-learn my talents at writing or drawing even. Sincerely speaking, his work did move me so. A few stories like ‘The Stonecutter’, ‘The miracle of Madame Villard’ and ‘Big Gene’ had quite some expedient historical references. As such it is kudos to William for not making these same stories feel like they were dusted up and recycled. Other stories like ‘The Bear’, ‘Gatemouth Willie Brown on Guitar’ and ‘Dilemma’ were short and sweet. There were heart wrenching ones mostly as were heartwarming stories too. Sister Carrie, which was the concluding novella, managed to touch me well enough to leave me with a sense of feeling for humanity. Accordingly, people are ultimately human irrespective of their foregoing agenda.
The general ambience and thrust of the anthology was measured and proportionate with just the right amount of emotion to not come off as offensive. The experience of reading through was real in a way that tended not to be vulgar. The graphic novels for the stories, ‘Homunculus’ and ‘Reddog’ reminded me of movie adaptations in reverse which is more or less a good thing. The chief illustrator by name Peter Healy as I gather was modest in his depictions without being forgettable. He was a bit abstract too but not in a way as to be condescending and that helped the general feel and flow of the work.
This work is a classic as if that fact isn't obvious already. I recommend it to everyone, and please do pass on the word. I liked everything and disliked nothing in this collection. And so, I give it a rating of 3 out of 4 simply because it is strictly an adult book (with a few negligible typos, hee hee!)
Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016
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