3 out of 4 stars
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Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles, 2000–2016 is a literary collection with unconventional and morally gray narrators that only scratches the surface of its true potential. Sometimes it’s like a snapshot, other times a little more expanded. I was thrilled that for a short story collection it is quite long! (over 500 pages) and honestly I marvel at the fact that just one man wrote all of these.
From the story of a young Chinese girl forced to sell her body to that of a stagnant small town where people rarely leave, the collection features over thirty stories of varying lengths, two graphic novels, and one novella, that span American life across generations and experiences. In the story, The Necklace, a couple is trying to find the rhythm of their relationship while they travel to India. They know how much they love each other, but they are uncertain about their future. However, tragedy befalls another couple; they realize how deep their feelings are for each other. I also loved the novella in which a pretty teenager falls in love with an Iranian boy. Life throws challenges in her way where she gets stuck between choosing a better life for her child or to support her husband . The Dilemma was pretty intense and emotional and I felt deeply for the characters.
What I loved most about the book is that the lead characters are not always ideal but their role is completely suited according to their story. The author, without doubt, did justice to the book by bringing forth the real-time issue with every story. He wrote the book with complete clarity which is rare to find in authors these days.
However, while most of the stories spoke to my heart, there were several others which failed to motivate me to complete them. There were few stories where I felt no connection whatsoever. Some did not have satisfactory ending ,whereas, some were stretched unnecessarily. The least appealing part of the book is that in the end there are two graphic novels which are already written as stories in the book. I do not think that explaining the same story in graphic form later was necessary.
Overall I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars because there are some stories which have a complicated plot and deal with violence and pain. However, the book is exciting with some wonderful works and amazing characters. There are some grammatical errors but they are very few and they do not break the flow. I do not rate this book 2 out of 4 stars because that will not do justice to the book as all the stories have the unique plot and a unique conflict driving it.
I would recommend this book to adults who love to read about complex issues with rare happy endings. Those who are under 18 must keep away from reading it because of its creepy content and violence.
Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016
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