3 out of 4 stars
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Illustrated Short Fiction by William H. Coles: 2000-2016 by William H. Coles
William H. Coles collection of short stories covers 33 short stories, two graphic stories, and one novella. The length of these stories range from one page to five or six pages. Some of these stories contain mature content, cussing, and involve disturbing topics. Since there are so many different stories, there are many different themes and frames that are touched upon. Friendship and understanding are two themes that are seen throughout the collection.
I enjoyed that each story was completely different from one another, but it still felt like they connected to the overall collection due to the writing style. I enjoyed that I got a full story over the course of the three or so pages compared to a three hundred-page story. I never felt like I was left hanging or the ending was insufficient. Another thing that Coles does a great job at is creating a visual picture in the reader’s head. Since the stories are so short, every sentence is important in understanding what is happening in the narrative.
The graphic stories at the end were visual renditions of two stories that came before them. The two comics are very different from each other in terms of story and visual design. The first story, “Homunculus”, is in color, while “Reddog” is in black and white. There are two different illustration styles being used that help bring the story to life. “Homunculus” is draw with a messy style, emphasizing the chaotic way of life for circus performers, while “Reddog” is drawn in black and white, to symbolize the absence of human connection of the main character’s life.
The novella, “Sister Carrie”, follows two sisters as they cope with the loss of their parents and deal with their own complicated love stories. The novella consists of 27 chapters and is narrated in the third person. Overall I really enjoyed the story because it made me feel multiple emotions. I enjoyed that this in-depth story dealt with complicated characters while having a plot that was straightforward and easy to follow.
One of the main problems that I had with the collection was that I found some of the stories to be uninteresting. When I was reading those stories it was hard for me to find motivation to finish reading. They were complex and well written, but I just couldn’t connect to the plot or the characters.
Overall I would rate this collection 3 out of 4 stars because most of the stories were engaging, but there were also a good amount of them where I struggled to finish. I didn’t give it 2 stars because there were a lot of parts of the collection that I liked. I saw very few typing errors, but there is an over use of exclamation points. I would highly recommend this collection to anyone who enjoys short stories. If you like something a little longer, the novella is a good choice as well.
Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016
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