3 out of 4 stars
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I rate Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles 2000-2016 book 3 out of 4 stars. It’s a good, fast-paced read and the book offers poignant storytelling and meaningful takeaways by the author, William Coles. I like that his stories have no open endings. The stories are complete, leaving you completely drenched with emotions feeling like a complete human. Common themes are complicated relationships, humanity, love, and injustice in the world and every shade of emotions. The emotions are piercing and hit you at the most unexpected times. If you are in a mood to read good stories that touch your heart and soul, this is a good book for you to pick and the length of the stories is sure to impress you. Short stories but with a lasting effect!
What I liked most is that the stories are all unheard of, none of them sound even remotely heard before. Fresh plots and asking probing questions to the reader about how they would react in extreme situations or questioning the society or even jolting the reader to the harsh realities of life. What I disliked most was the use of colloquial language in the story Gatemouth Willie Brown on Guitar. One cannot help but notice a sudden language shift here. However, this one was showing contrasting shades in humans. How strange can strangers be! While a person can be so generous and selfless to someone, the same angel can actually be a criminal and on the wanted list of cops.
There is one lengthy story, the novella. SISTER CARRIE, where you will be surprised to see love in people you consider your enemies. Another story sharing this theme is Gatemouth Willie Brown on Guitar. While that holds true about these stories, there are others that might leave you in doubt if the author is being prejudiced like in the stories Inside the Matryoshka and again in Gatemouth Willie Brown on Guitar. But as you continue to read, you realize its an integral part of the story. Its what makes the story. The story was merely pointing to humanity in the rarest expected places, amongst people from different walks of life. Some leave you broken like Inside the Matryoshka, where mistrust in this world is underlined. But also the need for parenting, human emotion is described. It is more like a fool’s paradise but with the basic emotions highlighted beautifully. The first short story, The Gift is deeply moving. Poignant writing evokes strong emotions. It didn’t seem like I am reading but experiencing. When it comes to raw emotions, the writer had me totally. There was an ache I felt, so deep, but I was more than happy to see a dignified ending for the protagonist, whom I was made to be closely associated with. The power of words is what this writer uses as a weapon to pierce your heart. His ink made my heart bleed the tears of long-lost humanity, of oneness with the character. Every emotion was taken from me and my take away was the raw feeling of being human. The vacuum inside me purified my soul and yet left me with some anxiety and uneasiness for the bad that happens in this world somewhere.
For the story Nemesis, I would say its straight-to-the-point, crisp writing. What if you are your own nemesis? Stagnant thoughts and ego only lead to not just our own but our closed one’s downfall too. The takeaway was that change is not the sign of the weak but strong. Leaving an everlasting effect is the story Necklace. It's about us visiting a country with our own pre-set views, stereotyped, and those views are vividly expressed in this story. Of course, everyone has their own perception: right or wrong! The author doesn’t seem hesitant to express his views or those of the majority. Tragedy and grief in the world are painted with colors of a country. How selfless love of a person can ignite love in a stone-hearted man, the very many shades of humanity painted on a canvas, the story breathes in itself. 4 characters and their backgrounds and personalities are made so predictable, yet fascinating to see how things unfold to bring the best within everybody. How sorrow can bring the best of us on the surface. How it is important to be grateful is the lesson learned from this story.
The Bear was one nerve-racking story, questioning blood relations, questioning the importance of our own life over our loved ones. Every story from this author is stirring our insides, jolting us awake with the possibilities and making us question our self-image, self-perception of goodness and asking such real questions. Karma is the constant, common theme in most of these stories. Really raw! Never heard of, not built on any storylines or plot, just something really really crucial questions we need to ask ourselves in our daily lives. Another story on these lines was Lost Papers. The theme of yet another short story, The Golden Flute focuses on complicated relationships. How love can ruin us is explored in this story. Relationships with people are judged on the basis of social norms. The actual love and concern in your heart goes unnoticed and is not valued. Parallelly, yet another relationship is explored that we have for our loved objects. How an object of desire can provide comfort, no matter expensive or not, that one object of desire can make us reach heights or can bring about our downfall. Yet another emotional, touchy story is Dilemma, one that is sure to give you goosebumps. Not that all the stories are sorrowful tales but of serious thinking; about who we are and who we could be in situations that we are unprepared for. The Amish Girl is a story that poses a crucial question: What good can community achieve in separating the people in love? Society sets rules and we have to follow them for the good of humanity but why is love always a subject of sacrifice, since times immemorial? Here’s one such love story. Beautiful and ugly at the same time. I felt the story of Dr. Greiner’s Day in Court depicts the evil in human! The ending is sure to haunt you. There are many other stories in here, each unique but common in its theme and questioning love and other emotions that make us who we are: Human (or not?)
Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016
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