Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles 2000-2016


Award Winning Short Stories

A collection of thirty-three award-winning short stories, two graphic novels, and a novella, each about one-of-a kind characters solving serious problems in challenging settings. The stories are crafted by William H. Coles with artistic intensity for engagement and entertainment. Each short story is illustrated by one of six artists commissioned for the story. Coles’s stories are inspiring, memorable, and enjoyable–a treasured addition to any library.

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Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles 2000-2016

The Gift • Speaking of the Dead
Homunculus • Suchin’s Escape
The Wreck of the Amtrak’s Silver Service
The Indelible Myth • The Stonecutter
The Necklace • Nemesis • The Bear
Gatemouth Willie Brown on Guitar
The Golden Flute • Dilemma
The Amish Girl • Dr. Greiner’s Day in Court
The Cart Boy • Lost Papers
Inside the Matryoshka • Big Gene
Grief • The Miracle of Madame Villard
Clouds • Reddog
The War of the Flies
Crossing Over • Father Ryan
Facing Grace with Gloria
The Perennial Student • The Activist
Curse of a Lonely Heart
On the Road to Yazoo City
Captain Withers’s Wife
The Thirteen Nudes of Ernest Goings
Graphic Novel: Homunculus
Graphic Novel: Reddog
Novella: Sister Carrie

Buy from:
Amazon (Kindle click here) and Barnes & Noble
PDF download $2.99
Black and White edition also available at
Amazon and Barnes & Noble


Reviews

Review from OnlineBookClub.org
llustrated Short Fiction has a lot of stories where you can feel the hurt and betrayal that the characters experience. William H. Coles chose the words so well that one can feel the anxiety of a little girl or the anger of a betrayed woman. Reaching the end of some stories you wish there was more. The endings leave you wondering what would have happened next. Would the man find love again? Would the world’s smallest woman find happiness and get her own family? All these questions remains after reading the stories, giving your imagination the opportunity to run wild.
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Review from OnlineBookClub.org
I am a huge fan of short stories and novellas. I have always wondered how an author can create an entire story in such few words. William H. Coles does not disappoint in this collection of Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles 2000-2016. The stories vary widely, from an unwed teenage mother finding purpose in the unconditional love of her child to an African American man in the south fighting racism and bigotry without violence, to the heartfelt generosity of a stranger in New Orleans. The compilation in this book appeals to lovers of multiple genres, including the graphic novel lover. Just like fables, most of the stories in this book seem to have a moral, or lesson to be learned.
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Review from OnlineBookClub.org
What I really enjoyed about this collection is how real and diverse all of the characters and situations are. My favorite stories in this collection include The Necklace and The Amish Girl. Many of these stories do not have happy endings, which makes the situations more realistic and permanent, but that doesn’t mean that none of these works end happily. I also enjoyed the graphic novels and how they were actually recreations of two of the short stories already written (Homunculus and Reddog). I just only wish that more of the short stories had graphic novel companions.
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Review from OnlineBookClub.org
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.
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The book is a collection of 33 short stories, a novella and two graphic novels. Illustrations enhance each story, supplementing the readers experience and understanding. Peter Healy wonderfully illustrated the two graphic novels, which are the retelling of previous short stories in the collection.

The characters and themes throughout this book are unique. While they share the connectedness of human struggles and moral issues, they do not intertwine. There are many messages taught through these stories which include unconditional love, acceptance, stereotyping, anguish, faith, death, birth, family values and narcissistic behaviors. Most of the stories are dark and have a miserable ending. Some offer a glimpse of hope, while others are down right horrifying.

I felt I could connect to many of the stories because they accurately portray the world we live in. I was left wanting more information and personality from some of the stories; characters that had a little more feeling. My two favorites were The Gift and SISTER CARRIE, the novella. I would highly recommend reading this contemporary collection of stories.

Author William H. Coles, has won many awards, including The Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction and the William Faulkner Creative Writing Competition to name a few.

Review from OnlineBookClub.org
In this anthology of over 30 short tales, two illustrated novels and a novelette by William H. Coles, readers are not going to find stories with fairy tale endings, over-the-rainbow type folk tales, or narratives that spark laughter impetuously. What readers will find are stories that makes you reflect on various facets of the world, tales that will not leave a warm feeling inside after reading, or happy ever after endings. However, William H. Coles has created interesting tales that penetrates the depth of your soul, question humanity and allows readers to form their own opinion.
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A wide-ranging volume offers a collection of short stories and a novella.

Coles (Sister Carrie, 2016, etc.) seems drawn to epiphanies begotten from moral crisis, a theme that permeates this assemblage of 33 tales and a novella, well under 100 pages. In the first story, “The Gift,” a 17-year-old girl, Catherine, becomes pregnant and is sent by her furious mother to a convent in France to deliver the child and then give it up for adoption. The baby is born without feet, but Catherine loves her deeply anyway, teaching her the difference between a disability and a blessing. In “The Necklace,” an unmarried couple struggles to figure out their future while they travel in India, but when they see tragedy befall another pair, they fully realize the depth of their love for each other. Some of the stories are so short they’re impressionistic and pull the reader into what seems like a dramatic narrative already in progress. For example, “The Bear” is two pages and details the outpouring of gratitude a man feels for life after he narrowly escapes death. Many of the tales confront a conundrum, inviting readers to draw their own conclusions. In “Dilemma,” a surgeon’s son shoots himself in an attempted suicide, and the physician has to decide if it’s either cruel or loving to try to save him, given the irreparable damage he has done to himself. The book concludes with a novella that dramatizes the love a teenage girl has for an Iranian boy possibly mixed up in terrorist activity. Cole’s compilation is as artistically ambitious as it is eclectic—one of the stories is set in France during its Revolutionary era. In addition, the author’s moral explorations are courageously unflinching and don’t shy away from either controversial or macabre subject matter. But these ethical studies can cross a line into sermonizing and read like overly didactic parables meant to impart heavy-handed lessons. Furthermore, the prose can be underwhelming: “Despite our lack-of-a-forever-marriage commitment, Helen and I were intimate good buddies, and we leveled our friendship canoe pretty well by stroking carefully in unison on opposite sides.”

Realistically gritty and morally astute, these tales can also feel overly instructional.

4/4

Review from OnlineBookClub.org
I love how the stories provide an accurate portrayal of life and how it made me think about issues on morality and human psychology. Rarely do I encounter a book that makes me fascinated and bothered at the same time. This would appeal to readers who are interested in short stories that have strong philosophical and psychological elements in it.
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5/5

This is a collection of short stories about people from all walks of life and ages. This book is extremely well written and, along with short stories that comprise a big chunk of it, it also includes a novella about two people from different backgrounds and ethnicities and their mutual relationships, along with a couple of graphic novels. The short stories come with illustrations and each one stands independently of the others and can be read in any order.

Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles is an excellent work of fiction. The writing style and craftsmanship are superb and the illustrations complement the stories beautifully. In fact, there were times when I didn’t particularly like a short story, but loved the illustration since it captured the essence of the story so well. The stories are written about people from all walks of life and backgrounds, and depict human emotions, fears, and joys quite accurately most of the time. I also liked the fact that the stories are not just set in contemporary times, but are also set in past decades and centuries. For example, while reading “Lost Papers,” I felt I was temporarily transported to that time period where fear and uncertainty were dominant, and the credit for this certainly goes to William for his vivid depictions of that era. For anyone who likes short stories, this is a great and well-crafted collection.

4/4

Review from OnlineBookClub.org
I can truly understand why the author has received awards for some of the stories. All of them are masterfully crafted. The writing technique is simple, linear, which only serves to emphasize the raw human emotions stirred by the stories. The author manages to create a very vivid description of the surroundings and of the characters and the images are quite beautiful.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I feel it’s a well-deserved rating and I would recommend this lecture for the force of the emotions it creates.
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5/5

A collection of short stories, graphic novels and a novella that all grapple with the idea of humanity, human errors, and how every human perceives a situation differently. Sometimes the stories are about counting your blessings and being happy with them, and sometimes the stories are about the trials and tests that humans have to go through. These stories are wholesome, entertaining and complete, giving you a fulfilling feeling. This book has a total of 33 short stories and all of them have their own characters, with their own flaws and their own wars to win.

I absolutely loved “The Necklace,” the story of a couple 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, who may or may not be part of a terrorist attack. “The Dilemma” was pretty intense and emotional and I felt deeply for the characters.

All of these stories will give you a sense of satisfaction and that is thanks to the way they are written. Author William H. Coles did a wonderful job of creating realistic characters who could be anyone we see around us every day. I don’t think I can describe the way he writes; it is flawless, smooth, and very striking. These stories will speak to you on a personal level. The illustrations were simply awesome as well. All in all, this is a wonderful collection of stories that are perfect for people who simply love to read.

Review from OnlineBookClub.org
None of the characters and the storyline is alike in the entire book. The heterogeneity of the characters, plots, sets, and the scenes in this book make the reading enjoyable. I planned to read two tales a day, but ended up reading 3-4 at a stretch. These stories are not interconnected; hence absolutely no need to read them at a stretch. It was my undisturbed curiosity that made me read longer in a single sitting.
Most of these stories begin with an illustration or two. They support the storyline and make the reading delightful. My favourite stories are, ‘The Gift’, ‘Speaking of the Dead’, ‘The Indelible Myth’, ‘The Necklace’, ‘The Amish Girl’, ‘The Cart Boy’, ‘The Activist’, and ‘The Thirteen Nudes of Earnest Goings’, to name a few.
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“Everybody has a story” is a well-worn phrase. But how many of us, as we go about our busy lives, ever stop to think about the home life of that disabled boy carrying out groceries or rounding up the emptied shopping carts around the parking lot? Or what would we find if we could read the mind and heart of that circus side-show attraction, the tiny female dwarf in the cute polka-dot dress? Or how does the trucker, who kindly stops to help a near lifeless girl on the highway, feel when his good Samaritan gesture turns his life upside-down? These are just a handful of many everyday people whose stories would never be told if it wasn’t for writers like William H. Coles.

The Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016 is a magnificent collection of 31 short stories of varying lengths, two graphic novels, and one of his most popular novellas, Sister Carrie. And as we move from one story to another, the lives, hearts and souls of ordinary people like us are told in Coles’s straightforward, uncluttered style, where what people say and do to each other is more gripping and unforgettable than the most intricate plots ever written. What’s it like to be raised Amish and then dare to fall in love with someone outside the community? What’s it like to have to deliver a eulogy for those you can barely tolerate when their families are grieving the loss of their loved one? And who will give a stillborn child, seen as and thought of as a “thing,” some kind of burial? Stories such as these will keep us glued to The Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016.

“Award-winning short stories of characters facing moral decisions that stretch their lives to mirror who they are and what they might become” is how this book has been described on Coles’s website, “Story in Literary Fiction.” That sums The Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016 perfectly. As a reader, Coles’ collection has reminded me of why and how literary fiction differs from popular fiction. It’s a reminder of why, as students in the sixties, we studied writers like Charles Dickens, Gustave Flaubert and Emily Bronte: plot mattered but character mattered more. But on a personal note, as a writer, for me The Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016 has opened a whole new world of possibilities. I can no longer look at the drunk passed out in a doorway downtown, or listen to the irritated voice of a customer service advisor, or watch a now disfigured young woman with the voice of an angel on America’s Got Talent who was one of only two who survived a horrific plane crash without wanting to know their story. Better yet, I am inspired to write such stories one day, and can only hope to do so as beautifully as William H. Coles has written these. I have read many books on how to write, but I’ve learned much more about writing by reading The Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016. Thank you, William H. Coles, for your inspiring and motivating stories that have touched this writer/reviewer so deeply.

4/4

Review from OnlineBookClub.org
I really liked this book because it is very different then most books I have read. I liked that there are several different short stories all put together as one book. I also liked the variety of the stories, there were some sad stories, some happy stories, and there were even some comic short stories. I liked that there was an illustration before each story because it gave you an idea of what the story was about.
I would rate this book 4 out of 4 stars because I liked everything about the book. I didn’t find any grammar mistakes, it gave a variety of stories to keep people interested, and the illustrations really help people picture the story in their head. Many people like different kinds of books so the variety of stories will help attract a variety of people to read the book. I think that if the author wrote more books like this one it would become a more popular way of writing books.
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Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016 by William H. Coles features 33 short stories that read like delicious desserts. A seventeen-year-old girl gets pregnant, the mother is disappointed and sends her to deliver her baby in a French convent with the hope of giving the baby away for adoption. The crippled child becomes the greatest gift of the girl’s life. Read about how the ills that touch the lives of others can provoke life-changing choices in us. Encounter the surgeon caught up in a moral dilemma to save or not to save his son after a failed attempt at murder which leaves him brain-dead. And there are a lot, lot, lot more surprises that readers will find in this selection of stories with a variety of themes and a wonderful assortment of characters.

When I started reading the Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016, it was with the intention of reading one story at a time, but it was irresistible, and I found myself going from story to story. William H. Coles seems to be a master of the art of the short story. Each story is composed to read like a miniskirt; short enough to provoke the reader’s curiosity and long enough to keep the essential hidden until the last moment. The stories are exciting, containing wonderful plot lines, complicated issues to deal with, and amazing characters. The author combines humor and wit with the art of the short story to bring a world of entertainment to readers. This is one of my best collections of short stories, after Langston Hughes.

Review from OnlineBookClub.org
My greatest enjoyment from reading the book was the unpredictability of the stories. Stereotypes and commonplace tropes were absent and the stories the author crafted were matchless. Unexpected endings made sure that when I thought I knew where a narrative was heading I was subsequently proved misguided. Characters provided distinct portraits of personalities and while different from each other they remained realistic. William H. Coles rejected a ‘black and white’ approach to the design of his subjects and thus the people portrayed in the stories were complex and distinctive. Each story evoked in me a wide range of emotion and I found myself at times becoming sympathetic towards some characters and their stories and feeling hate and disgust towards others. Heroes are few in this collection and where present proved ‘grey’ on the morality spectrum but this was a quality I much appreciated as it was true-to-life. I must mention that the author makes a delightful habit of embellishing his narratives using witty commentary either via characters or as the narrator and this adds considerable humor to these dark tales. Illustrations provided for every story are all beautiful, distinctive and capture the sweeping tone of the story it intends to represent. Various styles utilized for each picture ensured that images weren’t monotonous.
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5/5

An exceptional compendium of 33 short stories, two graphic novels, and a novella, a collection that offers a wonderful literary treat, beautifully told and brimming with exquisite beauty. “The Gift” introduces the collection, and it features a family conflict developed around an unwanted pregnancy. When seventeen-year-old Catherine gets pregnant, her mother, Agnes, has a clear plan for her. “Agnes kept her plan simple. After the birth, far away, an immediate adoption was the only solution, and after the town no longer remembered or cared, Catherine could return to live out her penance.” But Catherine has her own plans as well. And the child, born without feet, will transform her life in ways no one could have imagined.

This is just a taste of what awaits the reader in this collection, for there is a variety of stories, each with a unique plot, a unique conflict driving it, and quite often readers are confronted with suspenseful situations. The stories are well-developed and crafted to keep the reader turning the pages. Some read like little gems, others like a refreshing drink. It is difficult not to notice the entertaining character of the stories, with well-developed characters that fit neatly into exciting settings. Readers will enjoy William H. Coles’ gift for style, his excellent prose, and his uncanny ability to lead readers into the inner workings of his characters’ minds. The stories have both psychological and emotional depth, are conflict driven, and masterfully plotted. Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016 is both exciting and compelling in its originality and the illustrations add color to the overall reading experience.

4/4

Review from OnlineBookClub.org
The wonderful thing about this book is that this did not just happen with one story, or just a few of them. It’s a constant throughout the collection. Some of the stories are more fleshed out, some are actually very good and would stand on their own even with less interesting characters. Some actually feel too short and a bit incomplete. But what we always have here is superb character development.
Characters never exist in a vacuum, though, and the reason they are so memorable is that the relationships among them are drawn with a lot of honesty, insight and an unflinching look, even at awkward and strange moments. So is the author’s take on the subject matters he deals with, which are varied and encompass different historical periods, places and socioeconomic groups. It doesn’t matter if the story is, ultimately, uplifting and joyful, or if it’s sad, gruesome or bleak: Coles will stay with the characters and follow them along, showing us what they do, feel and think. We may not always like what we see, and we may find ourselves mentally arguing with them. But, after all, what better feeling is there than that?
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read 40 reviews from Indie Book Reviews

– Well-written, intriguing and thought provoking. This compilation of tales on the human experience as told by author William H. Coles will touch your heart, mind and soul, and leave you wanting more! “The Short Fiction of William H. Coles 2000-2016” is an impressive collection of over 30 short stories, some graphic novels, and then a novella at the end — each based on different characters from wildly different walks of life, and we experience a part of their life with them. 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. How talented! Each had its own distinct feel, yet all flowed nicely for the overall tone of the book: pivotal moments in life, challenging the psyche and looking inward, questioning ‘reality’…And I found each story length to be perfect to take in smaller doses, do something else for a bit, then read another story. They each reveal different aspects of humanity and unique characters, but they are also very relatable. Some are just 5-6just few pages long, but several are around 20 (or more). And as the title suggests there is a novella at the end “Sister Carrie”, which was actually my favorite. But the graphic novels were super cool too. Loved the illustrations before each story as they did a great job of capturing the vibe. Great editing and presentation. I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to others to read as well who enjoy literary short stories. (5 stars).

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In his expansive short story collection, author William H. Coles treats readers to 16 years of his short form literary fiction, including two stories presented with their own graphic novel style adaptations. Interspersed are accompanying illustrations from various artists.

Coles excels at diverse and expertly crafted character studies. Whether his subjects are physicians or felons, carnies or clergy, teachers or truckers, each is a nexus of psychologically rich relationships. Some of his finest stories are sweet-hearted renderings of hapless romance: A carnival dwarf enamored with a dashing trapeze artist, a college boy’s ingenuous courtship of an Amish girl, a professor’s repressed desire for a vexatious student. Others memorably explore darker sides of love: a man on the eve of marriage confronting the legacy of an act of childhood violence; a famous artist whose family and career are threatened by rumors of an illicit relationship.

All-told, there are 34 stories, a novella, and the two graphic adaptations, and most are comparable to work found in premiere literary journals. “Dr. Greiner’s Day in Court,” for example, precisely captures the voice of a teen girl, her simultaneous loathing of and loyalty to her brother, and the crushing realization of their father’s guilt—all in six suggestive pages.

Some, however, fall short: “The Bear” (recounted by the survivor of a bear attack) ends untidily in hasty confusion, and “Dilemma” (where a surgeon father intervenes after his son’s attempted suicide) prizes medical minutia over emotional impact. Additionally, with the exception of the graphic novel adaptations, which are evocatively rendered, the illustrations are of unequal quality and inconsistent style, ultimately seeming a superfluous addition to Coles’ prose.

Careful curation would propel this collection from good to great, but there can be no mistake about Coles’s talent. In this extensive volume there’s a story for virtually everyone, and readers of journals such as Ploughshares or Glimmer Train will find a welcoming home within its pages.

Review from OnlineBookClub.org
The Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016 offers readers a wonderful mix of 33 short stories, one novella and two graphic novels. In this anthology, Coles tackles a wide range of topics—from crushes and courtship that will either make you smile or frown, to complicated family issues that will tug at your heartstrings, and to grander subjects that address the darker side of the society.
If you’re looking for an anthology filled with fluff and happy endings, or something that will keep you giggling out of the blue, this is definitely not the right book for you. However, if you wish to find yourself contemplating about various aspects of life as you go to bed, then this may be right up to your alley. Majority of the stories do not have an entirely happy ending. Nonetheless, I would agree that if these events do happen in real life, there really won’t be any fairy tale endings.
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Review from OnlineBookClub.org
If fiction could always feel so real and relatable, I think I would be lost in imaginations. Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016 by William H. Coles is a compilation of short stories that will blow your mind. You may think my opinion is biased because I love Coles’ work but seriously…from 30+ tales with multiple characters, you can get parts you relate to. Well, I get that you won’t like reading the whole book only to enjoy few instances so let’s get to what the book is really like.
The book is a collection of thirty-three short stories, two graphic novels, and a novella. The stories were short and with lots of suspense. The author takes you through the thought process of a character in such a powerful way that the suspense at the end wouldn’t matter because by then you’d feel like a ”know it all”. At the beginning of each story, illustrations by different artists (mainly Peter Healy), give a visual explanation of the whole story. Coles takes a reader through a never-ending study of human nature through his diverse and deep characters.
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Review from OnlineBookClub.org
Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles is truly a fiction lover’s dream. Coles is a master story-teller who takes the reader on a rollercoaster ride of characters, scenarios, and emotions. Though most stories are extremely short, they are written with such passion and thoroughness you cannot help but feeling connected with each work. I admire the way no two stories are the same, each presenting a new mini adventure for the reader.

All-in-all, this book quickly became a new favorite for me. I highly recommend it to anyone looking to expand their minds or anyone simply looking for a great story or stories. The vivid characters are beautifully described and easily visualized and understood. Each scenario is so unique and captivating it makes the book hard to put down. This was my first book read from this site and it has me looking forward to reading more of Cole’s work.
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