Kimberlee J Benart


Review from Readers’ Favorite FIVE STARS
The Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016 includes thirty-three short stories illustrated by six artists, two graphic novels illustrated by Peter Healy, and a novella. The graphic novels are retellings of two of the short stories in the collection. Having previously read Coles’ excellent presentation on The Art of Creating Story, I was eager to explore this collection by a master of the genre, and I wasn’t disappointed. Warning: this isn’t an uplifting collection in general. Many of the stories are dark, sad, even tragic, leaving the reader with a heavy dose of the ugly side of real life. But that bears witness to William H. Coles’ utterly skillful abilities as a short story writer. How many of us can evoke such a wide spectrum of emotions from our readers with so few words?

The topics, settings, characters, and the lengths of the stories vary widely, making the collection easy to swallow in reasonable bites. Since I enjoyed the uplifting stories the most, let me point out two that moved me. The first, The Gift, is about a young woman named Catherine who gives birth in a convent far from home to a deformed child and then refuses to leave her when the intended adoptive parents wouldn’t take her. The second, Big Gene, is about the relationship between a talented black musician and a white KKK member. In both stories, the drawing of the protagonists as flawed yet heroic actors on a challenging stage with complex social and family relationships is wonderfully done. The Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016 is highly recommended.