2 out of 4 stars
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The Illustrated Short Fictions of William H. Coles /i] is a self titled collection of short stories bringing its readers into the lives of characters populating vastly different worlds. Mr. Coles is skilled at getting to the heart of the matter. This is seen in many stories including The GiftThe Bear and [b]Red Dog[/b]. His description of place often brings one into the story. It is his characters I take issue with.
Many of the characters are written as either entirely righteous while others seem to have no compassion at all. Characters are at the heart of almost all great literature. For this reason I give Mr. Coles collection a 2 out of 4 stars. In The Gift Catherine, Harold, and The Priest among other characters come across as holding too many admirable virtues. In the case of Harold there is one instant where this makes him look shallow:
. Did he not have any concern about how giving birth would affect his not yet fully grown doctor? Did he not think she herself had some fear? Agnes, the girls mother was too an unbelievable extreme in the opposite manner. She did not worry about her daughter giving birth in a foreign country holding the view that Catherine had made her own bed. While I do not question that this woman would put her own reputation above the emotional and physical safety of her own child and unborn grandchild, I don't accept to what degree she was able to do so. Does she not have some guilt? The story paints Catherine as immediately loving her child, but the reader is suppose to accept that Agnes can turn of all feelings, except shame and disdain, for a child she carried in her own womb.He felt lucky to be a grandfather. Birth was God's gift
In some stories The Bear comes to mind I could not accept the indifference toward other humans that the title characters portrayed. In the above mentioned stories, two men go on a trip with a 12 year old boy, who is the nephew of one and the step-son of the other. Neither of them feel any responsibility to the child, and when they encounter a bear argue over who is to look after his safety. The stories outcome is troubling, as is the lack of guilt either of them show.
Mr. Coles brings his reader to many different words, those populated by dwarves, and unwed mothers. He looms just on the shadow of making them believable. Didi in Hommunculus is a dwarf exploited in a side show. She has potential fo being a memorable character, but this is hindered by over zealous description of what those attending peak shows see. In this case description goes over board making the story suffer for shock value.
If able I would give the book 3 out of five stars as I think it is above average. The characters would benefit from Mr. Coles getting inside their heads and walking around a bit with them. Most memorable characters have flaws and strong points. In order to emphasize with people in books we have to believe they would exist. Convince me that these characters would and this book could be superb
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Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016
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