3 out of 4 stars
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Illustrated Short Stories Of William H. Coles: 2000-2016 By William H. Coles
The stories of Illustrated Short Stories Of William H Coles 2000 - 2016 are at their best captivating, interesting, page turning little gems. We are mostly treated to relatable characters and wicked tornado twisted yarns where we are being egged on by the writer to read "just one more".
There is a darkness within quite a few of these tales that cast an unexpected shadow, like a passing cloud and gets you seeking a blanket to cover your feet for a little comfort. Whether you end up drawing from your own personal experiences of certain situations (which I did on quite a few occasions) either figuratively or by having experienced something similar or by unknowingly being guided into build an emotional connection with the characters either by the way they are potrayed or when they show their hand and are laid bare and have to react to a situation within their story.
Not once did I predict an ending nor guess what conclusion I would be presented with. Each story, beginning one way only to then present us with a twist so sharp it induces travel sickness.
I found this such truly remarkable feat for a story whose page count remains within the single digits.
Unfortunately, having said that, sometimes, and thankfully it is only sometimes, we are left feeling a little flat and from time to time, a bit drip fed with the wishy washy.
We are presented with a couple of believable scenarios that hammer round pegs into squares holes with their hard to relate to characters, this could be based purely on my own life and daily interactions, but I was left with the sense that a small handful of stories had a rushed feel, as if we are being forcibly pushed towards a conclusion whether we want to go or not, tales that feel restricted by their "short story" label.
There are faked character connections, where we feel we are being lead into, almost an attempt at being tricked into, formed alliances or emotional ties without there being an explanation for why we should or being given the courtesy of giving us a setting where feel we should.
We have some dramaless conclusions where we are left with our empty, licked clean plates in our outstretched hands, asking, pleading, Oliver Twisting for more and at times we are, quite frankly, disappointed, having trained hard, run the race and fought the good fight we end up injured, breathlessly limping towards the finishing line with our shorts torn, our knees cut and then, just as the crowd rise and start chanting out name, we flop defeated to the deck only inches away from the finishing line, crying out for what could have been.
This compilation of 32 short stories, 2 graphic novels and a novella will tantalise all readers of it, even with the occasional lack lustre tale and the odd grammatical errors that it has.
I particularly enjoyed Lost Papers and its ending of instant free fall and Cart Boy's heartfelt moment of peace amongst many. The beauty of short stories of this strength and calibre are the ability to take a short sharp shot in as little as 15 mins.
Ideal reading for breaks, lunch hours, waiting for the bus, while the other half watches the match "the whole world has waited it whole life for". Although there is no guarantee that you stop at one.
Therefore, I give this book a 3 out of 4 rating.
Its strengths really do outweigh its weaknesses by far.
Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016
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