4 out of 4 stars
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Illustrated Short Fiction Of William. H. Coles 2000-2016 is a collection of 33 short stories, two graphic novels and a Novella. It contains beautiful illustrations at the beginning of each story, creating a wonderful interlude. Each illustration does well in capturing the content of the story. The author does a great job of weaving different moral quandaries for each of the characters. In turn leaving the reader asking themselves what she/he would do in a similar situation. In the story, the Gift, a young girl gets pregnant and gives birth to a child without fully formed limbs. Should she raise the child, despite the challenges that lay ahead? In another story a man is tasked to give a eulogy for his wife who had recently divorced him. Soon after, he had discovered she had been having a four year, long affair as was the case in Speaking of the dead. Does he speak of what happened tarnishing her image before her loved ones?
In indelible myth, a man who has lived with questions over his innocence since his childhood, after a girl he had issues with is found dead. Given he was the last person to see her, is presumed guilty by the people around him, despite the lack of evidence to prove otherwise. Fast Forward to the present, even the woman he wants to marry assumes his guilt. What is he to do when this is the notion of all those he opens up to?
Each story is beautifully written. It created a bittersweet experience for me as a reader. In that, the ending I anticipated wasn’t the ending i got. It was my first time reading something written by the author, I can say I wasn’t disappointed. Each story was superb in its own right. Out of the 33 stories and the novella, I would say these are the ones that left a lasting impression on me;
the Wreck Of the Amtrak’s Silver Service is about Heinrick Clever, MD. After 32 years of marriage to Agnes, he is filled with jealousy and bitterness over the unwavering joy she exhibits in her everyday activities. He feels she is to blame for his lack of advancement. He hatches an insidious plot to eliminate her. He enlists the services of Billie Bob, a suspected bank robber he had treated for burns at the hospital. Let's say Heinrick gets an ending he doesn’t anticipate.
In the Bear, a man, his brother in law and nephew decide to go hunting. It ends in a reversal of roles, where the hunter becomes the hunted.
The Thirteen Nudes of Ernest Goings is the story of a painter who forms a questionable relationship with the fifteen-year-old girl, Hester. The girl who posed as a model in his latest collection of nudes. Amanda, his daughter handles the business side of his works. She is forced to make the hard decision whether to allow the collection to be presented. An act that would bring shame to her mother and cause negative outcomes for her father.
A father who is a surgeon is left to decide whether to save his son. After an attempted suicide by use of a shotgun, leaves his son’s face shot off and barely hanging on. What is a father to do, hence the story’s title Dilemma.
The Cart Boy is the story of Marion, a disabled and uneducated young man who gets a job as a cart boy. He gets criticisms from the owner and staff over his ability to do his job. Despite it all he is diligent in his task and even goes the extra mile to improve the condition of the carts. Harry, the manager, and also the one who recommends him for the job is supportive and kind. An incident at the store causes him to be fired, despite how innocent the gesture is. In time Marion is re-hired, after Harry points out to the owner that the state of the cart care has gone back to the way it was. Whether it's a happy ending I leave it to the reader to judge.
The author has put together stories that have come together to create a flow to the entire book. Despite each story standing alone, as a reader, I was able to seamlessly move from one story to the next. The characters are developed in such a way you are able to connect with their issues with ease. I enjoy happy endings but most of all I love weird, bizarre and dark endings. I felt the author was able to deliver on that so well. For me, it's the endings that leave you with more questions than answers that keep you stimulated months after.
The illustrations were able to give voice to other artists not just the author’s works. The book is of benefit to more than just one person. It is hard to pick on what I didn’t like about the book. Even after reading through the book a second time, I don't have one point of criticism. The only sad part, for me, was having to let go of a character when I just got to know them.
I would rate the book 4 out of 4 stars because it is a wonderful collection of stories with varying characters. It has a few errors which don’t take away from the value of the content of the book. I wouldn’t give it a lower rating because of this point. In comparison to other collection of stories from other authors I have read, I can say I really enjoyed reading this entire book. I would recommend it to readers who love works of fiction. A reader who doesn't cringe when reading about sex, violence and the overall ugliness of human nature, this is the book for you. Due to the nature of the content, it’s not suitable for anyone below the age of 18.
Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016
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