Review by hmooneyham -- Illustrated Short Fiction of Wil...

This forum is for volunteer reviews by members of our review team. These reviews are done voluntarily by the reviewers and are published in this forum, separate from the official professional reviews. These reviews are kept separate primarily because the same book may be reviewed by many different reviewers.
Forum rules
Authors and publishers are not able to post replies in the review topics.
Post Reply
User avatar
Posts: 4
Joined: 13 Feb 2018, 19:13
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 72
Reviewer Page:
Latest Review: The Ordinary Doll by Mario Kiefer

Review by hmooneyham -- Illustrated Short Fiction of Wil...

Post by hmooneyham »

[Following is a volunteer review of "Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016" by William H. Coles.]
Book Cover
4 out of 4 stars
Share This Review

Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles 2000-2016 is certainly an apt name for this collection of stories, but the name lacks any pizzazz or creativity. I would very much like to see at least a little less of a description of what’s within and more of a title. It seems bland and boring. I would suggest a change of title at the very least. I doubt many people would pick up the book because of that title.

The first story is “The Gift” and tells the story of a seventeen year old girl who finds herself pregnant. Within the first few sentences I developed a dislike for the mother character, whose ideals could be called reserved at the very least. I could not find a bit of sympathy for that woman. However, the other characters- from the young girl herself to the nuns- were extremely likeable (dare I say, amiable?) and compassionate. The story was emotionally moving from beginning to end. This is paired with an illustration by Peter Healy of a mother and child. While the drawing itself shows talent, the colorization of it seems childish and simple, which seems in direct contrast with the difficult situations posed by William H. Coles in “The Gift.” It does, however, match the story at least in content.

The second is entitled “Speaking of the Dead,” with a picture by Betty Harper. The drawing shows two people (the main characters) with two coffins. The background of it is extraordinarily dark, as only death can be, and the entirety exhibits fantastic detailing. Although I happen to be drawn to most of the picture, the faces seem off-putting. It’s almost as if they are a part of another picture altogether and were pasted on to this one after the fact. The story itself is about two very different people who have to deliver eulogies for people with whom they each shared a complicated relationship. My first impression was that, at least to me, William H. Coles has an unbelievable talent for writing unlikeable characters. Grace and Candy, the mother and daughter characters (respectively, and both deceased) seemed selfish and, at the very least narcissistic. The story seemed to end abruptly, as if the story should have continued but the author just didn’t want to write anymore.

Next, we have “Homunculus,” paired with two drawings by Peter Healy. The first illustration is a dimly-lit rendition of the circus from the story. It has a darkness and a sadness to it that I really respond to. The second is an illustration of what I can only assumed is Didi from the story. The drawing seems incredibly basic and has bright colors, even throughout the shaded areas. The story itself is an excerpt from the life of a circus dwarf known as Didi. It rambles slowly along, touching on each and every one of Didi’s needs- all of which will probably never be met. The story brings me a sad emptiness.

The fourth fiction is called “Suchin’s Escape” and is, again, joined by two illustrations by Peter Healy. The first illustration is of a large man carrying what seems to be a young girl. She seems to be limp, her hair is messed up, and one arm lays at an awkward angle. The entirety of it gives me the most uneasy feeling. The second illustration is of an older woman reading a story by flashlight to two children. It has a dark and tense feeling to this one as well. These feelings were confirmed when I read the story. It is about a young girl named Suchin who is trying to escape from the sex trade. The tenseness and uneasiness continued to plague me throughout, joined by an incredible sadness for not only Suchin, but her handlers. This culminated with a bittersweet happiness at the end of it all.

I’d like to skip ahead now- not at all because of a lack of quality in the other fictions, or a lack of interest on my part, but because of the sheer volume of them. There are about thirty-six stories in all, including the graphic novelization of two of the previous fictions (“Homunculus” and “Reddog”), as well as the novella at the end, “Sister Carrie.” I wouldn’t want to ramble on about each one separately.

I would like to draw attention to my favorite part of the collection, named Nemesis. In particular, it is the illustration for this telling that caught my eye. This picture shows three different scenes of a man and a woman, by David Riley. The pictures are dark and twisted in a knotted, tortured sort of way like an old tree. The pain and utter reality in every line of their faces is almost hypnotic. There is no doubt in my mind that William H. Coles is a well-educated, accomplished writer with a penchant for finding a spark of interesting talent in artists. He has a talent to make me feel deeply with not many paragraphs. That is an insanely great talent to have. There were little to no mistakes. I would rate this collection 4 out of 4 stars. It is fantastic.

Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon | on iTunes | on Smashwords

Like hmooneyham's review? Post a comment saying so!
Posts: 845
Joined: 11 Mar 2020, 05:13
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 44
Reviewer Page:
Latest Review: Creating Literary Stories: A Fiction Writer's Guide by William H. Coles

Post by bookreviewmi1111 »

This book made me so emotional, and I appreciate it. The author’s writing skills are wonderful. Thanks for your review!
Post Reply

Return to “Volunteer Reviews”