2 out of 4 stars
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Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016 is a collection of thirty-three unconnected fictional short stories, each accompanied by one or two illustrations, a twenty-seven chapter novella, and graphic novel versions of two of the stories. The graphic novel recreations were done by Peter Healy and feature edited versions of the stories Homunculus and Reddog.
None of the pieces have any attachments to the others, but there does seem to be a few running themes throughout them. These themes include difficult or broken relationships, discontent people, loss, and tragedy. This is definitely not a collection that I would recommend for younger readers or for anyone that might be more sensitive to violence, death, or other related topics. Honestly, I don't know if there are many people I would be able to recommend this one to.
The writing style in this book was very dry for my taste and seemed choppy or stilted in some areas. It was also filled with lines or information that seemed to have no reason for being there since they didn't add anything to the work. Some of the entire plots also felt like they had no point to them and left me asking why they had been included at all. Then there were other ones where the situations that left me feeling uncomfortable and wishing I could have skipped over them entirely.
The characters in each of the tales were very hard to like or connect with as well; many of them being rude, one-dimensional, badly stereotypical, or just generally terrible people. I'm unsure if this is a specific choice written into the characters or not, but having so many of them being written this way made it difficult to immerse myself into any of their stories. The only characters that I actually ended up not disliking and being able to get into were John Hampton in Speaking of the Dead, Gene from the story Big Gene, and a couple of the minor characters here and there. There was also the problem of the author making sexual commentary about characters and in situations where it did not need to be which I found bothersome.
I have decided to give this book 2 out of 4 stars. The illustrations were enjoyable, but this was not a book that I enjoyed actually reading. The stories are filled with various dark topics that could have made for more interesting reads; unfortunately, I feel like the author did not approach them as well as he could have. So, even though there were a couple of stories that I liked, the majority of the time I felt like I was dragging myself through it all just to be left unsatisfied. This all made it difficult for me to want to go through more than two parts at a time because there seemed to be more areas in the book that didn't work than areas that did for me. In light of all of these problems, I could not bring myself to give this collection any kind of higher score.
Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016
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