2 out of 4 stars
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Review: Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016 by William H. Coles.
William H. Coles is a master of genres, evidenced plainly by Illustrated Short Fiction by William H. Coles 2000-2016. The ideology of illustrations seems farfetched but it blends well with the narratives therein. Each story is full of plot and amazing character development. This book features lots of great tales about the myriad hustle that has become the human norm. Human beings have buried themselves in heaps of brutal violence, cycles of pain, over the top lifestyles and desperate animalistic behavior……all these have been captured in Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016 by William H. Coles.
This combination of narratives both births empathy and encourages a level of sadness towards the wounded or broken-hearted characters and yet faith and hope clings to the last straw. I especially enjoyed, "the gift", Catherine portrays what unconditional love is all about and the obstacles to which such kind of love overcomes. The author has managed to tackle most of the life issues with a great level of assurance that it does get better. Loss is still part of the cycle of life.
One challenge I faced was constantly having to let go of the characters from one story and getting acquainted with the new ones. I am one of those people who takes a character seriously and it often left me empty having to abruptly let go.
Homunculus began and ended, I felt pity for Didi for the mistreatment and rejection she faced even with her big dreams. The circus holds much more. How does it feel to be labeled a freak? To know what you want in life but the world around you proves that you aren’t enough?!
I found that the author tackles issues that most want to stay away from, such as, dwarfs, child sex trafficking, the death penalty....... These are eye-openers unless you have gone through such, you never imagine how grievous/damaging to the human soul they are. They prove the evil in the world and it’s because of people like William H. Coles that conversations begin and such dire issues addressed. Suchin is a child that is being coerced into prostitution and as she attempts to escape she is hit by a car. This story made me feel mortified, my heart sunk as I read the brutality Suchin underwent. To some, death is a way of escaping the horror-filled life lived.
I have to mention the illustration by David Ridley on The Wreck of the Amtrak's Silver Service, it’s filled with so much emotion that penetrates the soul. Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy the tale though, it was filled with tons of violence.
Anna Solokova also does a wonderful job on her illustrations. What I dislike most about short stories is how abruptly they reach an end, it often left me discontented, and wishing there was more.
The stonecutter is one of those narratives that enables you to examine your unresolved heart issues. Willie's father held anger at ransom for being abandoned by his wife. From grievous murder scenes to graveyard scenes, from remorse to repentance, from pain to hope, illustrated short fiction of William H. Cole 2000-2016 is full of unventured terrain, how the human spirit can be broken but still evolve and survive.
I enjoyed ‘The necklace”, I could relate to Helen and how she took the suffering of others to heart, and her sympathy. On the other hand, Anwar enraged me to a point of disbelief, his utter disregard and lack of love towards Betsy tore me apart. Don’t all women fall into this pattern, giving excuses for the misbehavior of the men in their lives even when the evidence of violence is clear! John’s love for Helen awakened a longing within (though fictional), I felt the need to be adored as Helen was.
The illustration for Nemesis struck codes in the twilight department. Fred in Nemesis is a flawed, vulnerable individual with the longing to be loved and accepted but only finds and faces rejection.
There is real value in the tales of William H. Coles, though they lean to the darker side of the human spirit, I still recognize his prowess and mastery of literature.
Lessons learned include, that short stories whisk you up and take you on a roller coaster ride from one emotionally filled scene to a slow calm plot, from anger-filed reactions to sympathetic tears, from hospital scenes to forest scenes. Another real-life lesson is that when you care too much, you become a set-up for never-ending hurt. Also that most learning comes from suffering in Crossing over.
I enjoyed some of the stories but most of them were far out of what I consider entertaining or educative; they ended up exasperating me. The author highlights much of the negativity of the human soul pushed to limits that know no bounds. Suicide, murders, child sex-trafficking, marital infidelity………soon I began to wonder what the author intended to achieve. I am generally a happy, optimistic person and this book really dulled the happy go lucky person inside me. It reached a point I didn’t want to get sucked into any more of the pain and trauma his characters faced, there was no happy ending in sight. I would stop reading for a while, but I had to finish reading the book since I love finishing projects that I start.
Personally, I don’t encourage such writing if we all walked around with such negativity; the world would be miserable. (I acknowledge that this is a work of fiction).
Not all were bad though, I also enjoyed the Cart boy, the story furnished the saying that says, 'disability is not inability'. The Amish girl’s love story was heart-warming.
Some stories were too short, like a tease but I didn’t mind.
For me it always feels awkward to read about racism, Big Gene’s character explores this highly sensitive issue. We are all equal, no race holds superiority of whatever nature or context.
The full-page illustrations at the end are an interesting artistic addition.
Sister Carrie was the icing on the cake, my cup of tea. Married at seventeen to a Muslim terrorism suspect, does she come out unscathed or does her innocence save her daughter’s and her husband’s lives?
The writing was solidly good and the author’s mastery in writing is 100% evident, he is skillful, he has so much to write home about...... Talk about art, injustice, love-hate, violence-harmony and so much more. There were a few notable errors. The major reason I rate this book 2 out of 4stars is the brutality, violence, pessimism and all the pain portrayed. What I felt to be weird is how a larger percentage of his work is grim reaper kind of pain and brutality. For the readers willing to venture into this terrain, I recommend this book, but for the conservative readers, I say “reader beware”, unless you get a kick from pain and suffering, “KEEP AWAY-VIOLENCE AHEAD”
Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016
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