3 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
Illustrated Short Fiction by William H. Coles is a collection of short stories on relationships, grief, and death, sprinkled with life’s little twist of fate. Behind, an often-tragic setting, many interesting stories unfold. The stories are often quirky: sometimes this is due to the characters’ personalities, or their line of work, other times to the location. In most of Coles’ stories relationships are the crux of the matter: always complex, and often dark, they reveal to the reader, in a subtle manner, that things are not always what they seem. In this book the author depicts the most uncomfortable aspects of human interactions, and that much sought-after feeling, called love.
In Illustrated Short Fiction, tragedies, evil acts, and crime touch all spectrum of society, and the author always succeeds in using the right vernacular for every single one of them. The plots are interesting and have none of the too easy feel-good-factor at the end. Feelings are shown in all their complexity and duplicity. Characters are well constructed, and seem to inhabit a hostile universe, where nothing can ever go right for them. But what makes them endearing is their ability to accept their destiny and move on. The dramatic tension of the stories is well captured in the graphic version: a genre that seems ideal for some of the short stories in the book.
Of all the stories I particularly liked Homunculus, which tells the story of Didi, the smallest woman in the world, who makes a living by performing in a circus, and her love for Lalzo the trapeze artist. Although an element of sadness pervades the whole story, the feeling of disappointment and limitation that the reader can capture in Didi’s life, are not what Didi is made of. Difficulties, in this case, don’t lead to a pessimistic view of life, but instead reinforce the character’s determination and strength. And Didi fights till the end to get what she wants.
The Stonecutter is another fascinating story of love yearning, betrayal, and mystery. A black teenager lives with his dad who carves statues for a living. One day a beautiful, strong-headed young woman arrives to commission a statue for her stepdad who has just died, and with her openness and courage she shakes the foundation of the teenager’s life, opens the Pandora’s box, and sets him free.
In The Necklace, a theft, which takes place during an excursion, unravels the lives of two couples, which have met during a trip to India. Four people step carefully into each other’s lives, but cannot avoid getting involved in a tragic ending.
The strength of Illustrated Short Fiction is the variety of the stories. In them people of different ethnicity, social classes, and age live their lives, sometimes in unusual circumstances, other times in the monotony of less troubled surroundings. But in both cases the reader can get a good understanding of the character’s problems and struggles, and can easily empathise with them. Due to this, I rate Illustrated Short Fiction 3 out of 4.
Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon | on iTunes | on Smashwords
Like Silvana_v's review? Post a comment saying so!