4 out of 4 stars
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If you are a fan of short stories then you'll be in for a treat with this one. As the title suggests Illustrated Short Stories Of William H Coles is a collection of 36 stories although the last one, "Sister Carrie"(which was my favorite) is much longer since it is a novella. Just before the last story are two graphic novels based on two of the stories, "Homunclus" and "Reddog".
There are illustrations at the beginning of each story that if you pay attention to, roughly describe the story. A few pages into the book I began to pay more attention to the illustrations and tried to guess what the story was all about.
Through the stories in this book, the author covered a whole range of topics common in our everyday life from divorce, racism to poverty. I however noticed a recurring theme of loss in nearly all the stories. In most of the stories at least one person died at the beginning or ended up dead. There was divorce and abandonment by family, lovers or spouses in the stories where none of the characters died.
The characters in each of the stories are men and women, girls and boys who you can easily relate to no matter who you are. They are all just trying to make do with the cards they are dealt by fate. For the most part the characters were unbelievably convincing. I could understand their pain, love, and their sense of loss. All this is true with the exception of the first story "The Gift".
I don't understand why this was the first story in this collection. It was by far the weakest story with poorly written characters. They were like puppets been used to make a point which was irritating.
This is because I don't want to think about the author when I read. I don't want to get the feeling that the author is lurking somewhere behind the characters like a master puppeteer. I want to be convinced that all the thoughts, beliefs, conversations and actions are the character's. For even a few minutes I want to believe that they are real.
I really liked all the other stories though even the ones that freaked me out and that is why I give this 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend this book to readers who like short stories and those overwhelmed by novels but still like to read.
Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016
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