3 out of 4 stars
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If fiction could always feel so real and relatable, I think I would be lost in imaginations. Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016 by William H. Coles is a compilation of short stories that will blow your mind. You may think my opinion is biased because I love Coles' work but seriously...from 30+ tales with multiple characters, you can get parts you relate to. Well, I get that you won't like reading the whole book only to enjoy few instances so let's get to what the book is really like.
The book is a collection of thirty-three short stories, two graphic novels, and a novella. The stories were short and with lots of suspense. The author takes you through the thought process of a character in such a powerful way that the suspense at the end wouldn't matter because by then you'd feel like a ''know it all''. At the beginning of each story, illustrations by different artists (mainly Peter Healy), give a visual explanation of the whole story. Coles takes a reader through a never-ending study of human nature through his diverse and deep characters.
As I was choosing this book, I wasn't sure I would like it (I don't normally enjoy compilations) but then the moment I read the first story, I was hooked. Not many authors can make a reader empathize with the antagonist. I trod virtually on the same path with the characters through their minds. This made me discover different perspectives and even make sense of personalities that would usually be so annoying to me. I would believe that a book that gives you bonus ideas on how you can live with different people by understanding them to be the most entertaining and useful material in our daily lives. Right?
One of my favorite stories in the book was ''The Indelible Myth''. It started when the main character was a fourth grader. They were creating mother's day gifts and he drew a bird. His teacher announced his drawing as the best accomplishment of the day. A certain girl called Ruth tore his drawing due to jealousy and it ended up with a physical fight. Ruth got bruised and was taken to the hospital while he got punishment. One day (after the two families had patched things up), they were having a barbecue when he and Ruth went fishing. He came back earlier than Ruth and they later found Ruth's body in the river, bruised. From then on, he was isolated by everyone in the community, labeled as the murderer. This wears over when he moves to another state after college and falls in love. He opens up about his past and the woman suspects him. Would anyone ever believe him?He lost everyone because of his past even the woman he loved. Should he always omit the details of his past or should he live his life in solitude?
I haven't really answered this because I still have no idea which option is best. The first one is risky because the past eventually reveals itself...and it could get ugly. The second is unhealthy and not entirely fulfilling. This particular story was so unique and sad. It made me feel like life is so unfair sometimes but we still have to make it work.
I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. Coles was able to engage his readers in just the most simple happenings of life in a unique style. Your idea of complexity and impossibility in others' characters doesn't have to remain as is. Things to learn from Cole's 16years of work can make an endless list. I could have given it four stars but the typographical and spacing errors robbed one star. I also noticed instances where some characters' names were switched and that made it quite distracting.
There is something for everyone in this book and that's why I'll urge everyone to give this book a try. Narrowing it down, anyone who loves knowing more about the why and how regarding human nature, this is the ultimate material for you. Most stories are quite dark and so people who love '''smiles and happy ending'' stories might find this book less appealing. Any aspiring writer would learn a great deal from this book especially about character building. This book was a great read.
Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016
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