Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles 2000-2016


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. Read More…

Available as .pdf(text) file download.

44 reviews for Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles 2000-2016

  1. rashmisharma

    Review from
    This particular collection of short stories is deeply stirring in a passive sense. The narrative is in a design where you just can’t take an outsider’s point of view. They demand to be felt, to be empathized with, and to be thought through. Or worse yet, be disturbed. However, they all end on happy notes or at least a positive or hopeful undertone. It is a recollection of humanity, of stirring struggles whether they are commonplace or unimaginable. It stays with you long after the book has been kept away.
    Read the entire review here…

  2. zukylala

    Review from
    Asides from the art, the stories were highly imaginative and skillfully told. After reading the book, I sort of felt star struck and I’m thinking I ought to re-learn my talents at writing or drawing even. Sincerely speaking, his work did move me so. A few stories like ‘The Stonecutter’, ‘The miracle of Madame Villard’ and ‘Big Gene’ had quite some expedient historical references. As such it is kudos to William for not making these same stories feel like they were dusted up and recycled. Other stories like ‘The Bear’, ‘Gatemouth Willie Brown on Guitar’ and ‘Dilemma’ were short and sweet. There were heart wrenching ones mostly as were heartwarming stories too. Sister Carrie, which was the concluding novella, managed to touch me well enough to leave me with a sense of feeling for humanity. Accordingly, people are ultimately human irrespective of their foregoing agenda.
    Read the entire review here…

  3. Amnrao

    Review from
    A treasury of thirty-three award-winning short stories, two graphic novels, and a novella. Each story has come alive with beautiful narration in different styles. It presents the stories of all genres in such a way that readers would get inspiration to read stories with anticipation.
    I would recommend this book to people who like fictions. There is a variety of stories, each with a different plot.This book deserves top ratings. Accordingly, I rate 4 out of 4 stars.
    Read the entire review here…

  4. zeldasideas

    Review from
    In William H. Coles’ Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles, 2000-2016, we encounter 36 stories focusing on the world of the inner self striving to ascertain its highest moral principles after learning that it must compromise its standards to achieve them. The characters in these stories often face social obstacles which they overcome by transforming themselves into different moral agents. After near-death or tragic experiences, they are no longer themselves; they are stronger people who demonstrate acts of great faith. While the moralistic tone of these stories may create a bias in viewpoint, it nonetheless strives to bring us nearer to the religious milieu of the speaker.
    The book’s illustrations are done in expressionistic color and black-and-white. The graphic-cartoon approach makes light of the cruelty of the events in relation to the grandeur of human foibles. This work will be of interest to all who cherish fine prose. I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars.
    Read the entire review here…

  5. elliphont1

    Review from
    In this superb collection comprised of 33 short stories, 2 graphic novel adaptations and final novella, Coles explores the human condition. Circumstances together with personal experiences in time and place, have formed his cast of players and their relationships, as they find themselves in an an array of confronting or challenging situations. I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars without hesitation.
    Often there is an underlying moral to the tale and a hard lesson to be learned. Regret,surprise revelations, expected and unexpected outcomes, love, death, achievement, disappointment, humour, kindness, triumph over adversity, loyalty, betrayal, strength, vulnerability and journeys of self discovery are all to be found in this collection.
    Read the entire review here…

  6. Kilra_bellarya

    Review from
    In this published book, it embodies different situations in the real world. It revolves around the struggles of humanity and the characters’ strong personality to face those. Furthermore, it includes illustrations to fully picture the setting of the story. Coles portrays perfectly the vivid setting around the characters. They will forcefully drag you to their fiction world and they will make sure you will feel their anguish, grief, excitement, frustration, and surprise. It is really a roller coaster of emotions and every time you finish a story, you may want to stop for a while, recollect your thoughts and recover from the literary aftermath.
    One must not expect happy endings in real life, likewise, please expect the same thing in some of the stories in this book. I personally have to step back with my mouth open to slowly internalize the ending. Yes, some are tragic but every now and then, you pick up pieces of lesson that was left in those tragic endings.
    I give 4 out of 4 stars to this book. I have not seen mistakes or typos, exhibiting that this was a professionally edited piece. I admit, it is now my personal favorite because it is not your typical book. It is a perfect combination of reality and fiction. It will make you realize that even if it may or may not happen to you, but what if. What if you will experience those kind of dilemmas? Will you be as strong and determined as those characters and what should you do to not end up like some of them.
    Read the entire review here…

  7. sanchez_eli

    Review from
    Offer number one: the whole book gives you this strange Twilight Zone feel without the supernatural elements, particularly the story Speaking Of The Dead. Definitely far from being supernatural or mystery but it really resembles Twilight Zone and I can’t pinpoint what or why. Majority of the stories in this book gives the similar thrill of the pace of “Closing Time”, one of Neil Gaiman’s shorts.
    Offer number two: the stories in this book tackles obscure reality. It deals with guilt, passion, sympathy, compassion, self-doubt, and coming of age. It also depicts events that happened, is happening, and can happen in life. Others might even call it horrors of reality. But aside from the unsettling stories, there are a couple ones that will warm your heart by the end. Will make you think what really is important in life.
    Offer number three: I love how the author mixed and molded just enough exaggeration while still making it believable and close to reality. I think it is one of the important characteristics a book should have, the believability of the world, characters, and the story created, especially in fictions. I also love the subtle hints that establish the relationships of characters.
    Read the entire review here…

  8. flocy92

    Review from
    Each of the story in the book is realistic in nature so thumbs up to the author for the disclaimer. Being realistic some of the stories reveal the dark side of human nature and its dark indulgences which in my opinion, gives the book dept. I like that the different short stories have their own interesting story line. It elicited different emotions when reading which made for an excellent read. Some of the stories are gruesome and brutal, which is a little to jarring for my taste but, I liked it in the end and I`m sure it will be enjoyed by other realistic fiction fans as well.
    I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I give it this rating because the short stories are very well written, with no noticeable grammatical errors, and the stories are very interesting to read. I recommend it to realistic fiction fans, it is an excellent read and will be highly enjoyed.
    Read the entire review here…

  9. oogies

    Review from
    William H. Coles have a way with words, these stories are eloquent and seamlessly takes you on a swift but unforgettable journey with enticing characters. Each story takes you through a range of different emotions, which ranges from elated to somber, enraged to disturbed. Just when you determined that you have grasped the story, you are taken on a ride that you did not expect. These stories leave you contemplating them long after you have put the book down. I found myself wanting to stop reading after a few lines in a few of the stories but found I was unable to, the lure of what came next kept me reading on until the finish.
    Read the entire review here…

  10. Bushra Nasim

    Review from
    As it is a short story collection so it is a cocktail of diverse stories, each having its own essence. From the tales of a dwarf to the account of the dead, a fiction fanatic can find every flavor in it. For an instance the gift revolves around the story of three generations: grandmother, mother and daughter who have their own perspective of seeing this world. Homunculus portrays the life of a dwarf working for a circus and her struggle to find her true love. Reddog is an account of a criminal’s sense of guilt after committing a crime. Speaking of the dead makes you believe that sometimes forgiveness is the only option and moving on is never a wrong idea. The novella “sister Carrie” is a story of two sisters, Jassie the elder one and Carrie the youngest. Carrie marries a Muslim named Zamel against her sister’s wish. I loved the way how the author unfolded the story and showed another side of the picture. Stereotypes are not always true and this is what the main idea of this story is. In a nutshell, this book offers a wide variety of literature to the reader.
    Read the entire review here…

  11. Nikki Dewing

    Review from
    What I like about this book is firstly that one does not have to read it in one sitting, something which I would anyway not recommend. Each story has a deep message to digest and time is required for reflection if you want to get the most out of this book. Secondly, the life, heart and soul of ordinary people are presented in a straightforward, uncluttered way. What people say and do are often more gripping and unforgettable than the most intricate plot. It forces the reader to look at people differently, and to realise that each one of us has a story.
    Read the entire review here…

  12. prisco_bj

    Review from
    William H. Coles’ collection can be thought of as a modern day Grimms’ Fairy Tales. While every story has a life lesson, they are definitely not meant for children. Each story tackles a mature issue from relationships and identity to human trafficking and suicide. Coles has an amazing way with words that captivates the reader and takes them into the world of the characters right away. Even though the stories are short, the reader is taken on an emotional journey and left to contemplate some of life’s most prominent (and sometimes disturbing) issues at the end of each read.
    Read the entire review here…

  13. chiwenduchijioke

    Review from
    Illustrated Short Stories of William .H. Cole is a collection of Thirty short stories, two graphic novels and two novellas. The stories are of varying lengths with the shortest being less than two pages. The themes of the story include love, grief, hope, death and generally simple themes we are familiar with.
    The author a very skilled story teller wraps simple themes in Wide and deep characters, powerful descriptions and amazing imagery that is worthy of note. The author takes us through all sorts of settings from busy cities to country side farm houses to woods. He displays vast knowledge of many things and therefore makes the book a readers delight.
    Read the entire review here…

  14. Shraddha_rc

    Review from
    Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles 2000-2016 is one of the most amazing novels I’ve read so far. It has 34 stories with two more stories that are graphic novels of already given chapters in the book.
    Since it is a collection of short stories, I was a little skeptical to read it, thinking whether all of them will be interesting or if some of them will let my hopes up for nothing. But I must tell you that I never expected to read these kind of stories ever. The fictions were written precisely, dealing with the reality that we live in, not some fairy-tale story. Each and every one of them had a very deep meaning which was not gone unnoticed.
    Read the entire review here…

  15. evilblackraven

    Review from
    The book was a pleasant surprise. It contains thirty-three short stories, two graphic novels depicting two of the short stories, and one novella. While these stories are considered fiction, many of the stories portray themes and ideas that could happen or could have happened in real life. It should be noted that this book has themes that are not meant for a younger audience. The short stories range from a tale of a family whose unmarried teenage daughter gets pregnant and then sent away to give birth and give the child away, to a young girl who is trying to get away from a being a sex slave, to a man who’s life seems to just keep falling apart.
    Read the entire review here…

  16. FawkesThorn

    Review from
    This fantastic collection covers everything one is looking for with stories. From heart stopping chase scenes to a devious husband who tries to kill the woman he is supposed to love.
    Mr. Coles portrays his characters in the most realistic way, one character that stands out most for me is Didi from Homunculus. She is the perfect example of a woman. She loves and pines for someone who isn’t all too nice and overlooks her, ignoring the perfect match that’s sitting right next to her.
    Read the entire review here…

  17. Mr Justin

    Review from
    The “Illustrated Short Fiction of William H Coles” by William H Coles paints a vivid picture of various characters’ emotional struggles: Love, anger, hate fear, worry, joy, sorrow, and so forth. It’s a collection of thirty-three short stories, two graphic novels and a novella? each one presents a unique character in a particular social setting trying so hard to overcome a life challenge.
    Coles managed to develop strong characters like Catherine, John Hampton and many others. The main plots and sub-plots are also work of a skillful writer. Of course, his descriptive language is very good, and both description of scenes and characters are excellent. Since a story is told in an imagery a writer creates in the readers’ mind, then Coles really managed to tell all the stories.
    Read the entire review here…

  18. centfie

    Review from
    I was dazzled by the simplicity by which the stories are told with such a captivating effect. The dialogues are witty and dispersed appropriately within different stories. William uses some interesting phrases that are worth quoting because of how they relate to human life. They may not be true but, they are expressions of thought-provoking ideas. “No love makes the innocent dry up and blow away” is said by Amy Withers, a character on page 281. “Like marriage is bondage” is said by Helen, a character in “The Necklace.”
    Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles 2000-2016 deserves 4 out of 4 stars because reading it was such a delight. It is one of those books that you do not give away easily.
    I recommend this book to fans of literature who do not shy away from tales of horror, sex, murder and human imperfections. The descriptions are not too graphic or exaggerated. Nonetheless, this collection of short fiction is suitable for an adult audience.
    Read the entire review here…

  19. mansinandwani

    Review from
    Coles, without a doubt, has a deep understanding of human emotions and a keen eye for detail. Every story is an intense narrative of the things love, anger, fear, apprehension and grief makes us do.
    Through the pages you will find yourself becoming a part of the lives of a woman who gives birth to a deformed child, children who sit through the trial of their father accused of killing their mother, a mother grieving over her daughter’s stillborn, a young girl attempting to escape from the clutches of child traffickers and various other protagonists fighting odds and their inner demons. The impeccable portrayal of human emotions is authentic in every sense. Both the narrative and the dialogue are written with complete attention to detail.
    Read the entire review here…

  20. Harview

    Review from
    ILLUSTRATED SHORT FICTION of William H. Coles, 2000 – 2016 might best be described as an illustrated collection of ‘experiences’ (rather than merely stories), told through often-poignant slices of life. He does that. As a writer William H. Coles is not limited in his portrayal of the human animal and that inherent Ying-Yang element within us all; and in that grasp of life he presumably possesses (along with probably astute research) he—in this collection—becomes that unique antenna above this melting-pot society in which we live. Coles is a superb weaver of words—a writer that settles you down to look beyond a character’s façade and into that character’s anguish or joy or longing and does it while quenching any thirsting for expressive prose interspersed with piercing in detail. In this collection, the author opens the raw guts of the human to us. He does this through his exemplary plotting along with his incisive crafting of characters. The writing in this collection is just spectacular.
    Read the entire review here…

  21. Jennifer20

    Review from
    Coles succeeded in diverse and character studies within a range of factors like felons, clergy, or physicians. He usually covers an understanding of loss whether by death, abandonment by family, or spouses. I could just feel every emotion as if I was in that position instead of the individuals. At each of the beginnings is an illustration that presents a visual example of what is occurring. I examined them hoping to predict what is to take place as I continued to read on.

    I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. The book looked to be edited with no incorrect sentences or spelling errors that I noticed. I recommend this book to people who want to see other people views in life as it seems to be arrayed with modern times in mind.
    Read the entire review here…

  22. powderblue

    Review from
    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?
    Read the entire review here…

  23. MsLisa

    Review from
    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.
    Read the entire review here…

  24. ShailaSheshadri

    Review from
    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.
    Read the entire review here…

  25. erin_mcmullen

    Review from
    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.
    Read the entire review here…

  26. MidnightBasm

    Review from
    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.
    Read the entire review here…

  27. Rachel Laurel

    Review from
    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.
    Read the entire review here…

  28. bootsie0126+

    Review from
    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.
    Read the entire review here…

  29. Silvana_v

    Review from
    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.
    Read the entire review here…

  30. BioShock20

    Review from
    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.
    Read the entire review here…

  31. Txangel0213

    Review from
    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.
    Read the entire review here…

  32. Booklover2701

    Review from
    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.
    Read the entire review here…

  33. Taylornic98

    Review from
    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.
    Read the entire review here…

  34. TashaCrispin

    Review from
    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.
    Read the entire review here…

  35. jvez

    Review from
    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.
    Read the entire review here…

  36. Review from BlueInk

    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.

  37. read 40 more 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).
    -At first I was a little hesitant to read this book, only because I like long, epic novels that I can really lose myself in for days. So short stories are not my usual fare. But I have read several books by William H. Coles now and know the man can write and tell powerful stories. So I started with just one, and I found myself just wanting to read another… and another… and another. “Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles” is exactly that – a short story collection (and novella/graphic novels) that tells of different lives of people in state of change, and some with circumstances reflective of human nature, some at its most pivotal, and even darker moments, and some very ordinary. Yet even the darker stories are somehow beautiful, profound and touching in their own way. I was impressed by the amount of emotion and investment the Coles manages to pull from the reader in just a few pages. Sign of a gifted writer there. All stories were similar in feel, yet very different, but I think my favorites were “Grief” and “Curse of a Lonely Heart”. But they were all very good, really. Great drawings, and I really liked the graphic novels as well! That was the first time reading one of those and now I can see the appeal. Probably best suited for adults due to some language and adult themes but it’s nothing very objectionable. (4.5 stars)
    -Yay! I totally enjoyed this book by author William H. Coles (no big shock there – I’ve enjoyed all his books!!!). I thought it was excellently written and with great characterizations – I could always picture everything (and everyone) perfectly, even if not physically, I could see and feel them. It did keep me engaged, and I liked the shorter length of these stories… short enough to read a few a night (sometimes more), but not so short that you don’t feel like you experienced anything…quite the opposite, actually. I like Mr. Coles’ edgy and literary writing style very much, and found myself completely lost in his unique worlds and characters. He definitely isn’t afraid to think outside the box or take chances – ha can make the most ordinary event seem moving and profound. Although I did enjoy some stories more than others, I was almost disappointed when I was finished because I wanted to read more. Most are a fairly decent length (10-25 pages or so on my iPad), but the author flexes his literary chops a bit more in “Sister Carrie” and I liked that this one was deeper and more developed (it’s the novella at the end). I do enjoy Coles’ longer novels, but in my opinion I almost think these shorter stories are better! They really capture the essence of something special and take the reader on a grand ride through so many experiences it really is amazing. for mature teens and up (mild language and suggestive content). (4 stars)
    -“The Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles” is an excellent book that certainly captured my attention from the beginning, pulled me in, and never once let go. Each individual ‘story’ was riveting, imaginative, and flowed smoothly from one to the next… never a “dull one” where you get bored or want to skip ahead… you really just want to keep going from one character and event to the next. The descriptions were very strong, and I mean with Coles’ word choice… literary and powerful. I felt like I was genuinely inside the characters’ heads experiencing the world through their eyes, for better or worse. I liked all 35 (?) stories and actually wished there were more of them… On occasion I thought there were some bouts of too much ‘telling’ (more narrative than dialogue) and I questioned the point of a few of the stories (some felt that they had a ‘plot’ or ‘message’, but some did not…) But I liked them anyway and would love to read more in this style from Coles in the future. He has a natural gift for creating a well-thought out, complex stories and developing deeply memorable characters in a short amount of time. This isn’t easy to do. (3.5 stars)
    -“Short Fiction of William H. Coles 2000-2016” is hands down one of the most original and interesting books (collection of short stories) I’ve read in a long time! I was completely drawn in from the opening pages, and thought the stories were all really cool in their own way. After reading the first one, “The Gift” I knew these stories would be unlike anything I was used to reading and I was right. We feel transported not only into the various characters’ heads throughout the different experiences and their circumstances– it felt like I was reading several slices of real life, although dark or surreal at times – always moving on some level. Nicely written and sometimes some parts almost felt poetic. Nice literary flair to the prose, and the conversations with the characters always felt genuine (not contrived or stiff) There is a raw grittiness there that was quite appealing, and the pictures throughout are a great touch. I like how the author switches it up at the end and throws in some graphic novels (and a novella) – I normally wouldn’t read those on my own, but they were really terrific and the illustrations very fitting. All of William Coles’ books have been a treat to read and this one is no different. Recommend for fans of literary short stories. (5 stars)
    -I’ve read and enjoyed several of William H. Coles’ longer novels, so I had no hesitation in picking up this book, even though reading short stories is actually pretty different from a novel. But as always, I thought that Coles’ writing style was authentic, genuine, and the stories were all very well written, and imparted such moving, haunting, evocative tales in such a short amount of time…. Normally it would take a novel of much longer length for me to feel the emotional impact I did while reading these. Profound and literary, with an effortlessly beautiful narrative prose and memorable characters that stay with you, each story was different in its own way, but all very good and with a similar tone and feel. I wasn’t so into the graphic novels, but the longer novella “Sister Carrie” was really good too. At this point I feel like anything William Coles writes, I’d be happy to read it. Recommend for mature readers of literary fiction and short stories.(4 stars)
    -This was a great book to curl up with on the couch and just get lost in! I’ve read several short story collections in the past and while I usually enjoy them as I like the shorter length and the tighter focus on a singular plot, I enjoyed this book as a whole, and thought each story was as good as (if not better than) the one before! It’s hard to pick a favorite from the collection, as each was good and unique in its own right, but it was probably “The Amish Girl”? I don’t know, I also really liked “The Cart Boy” and especially “Sister Carrie” (the longest one). So many of the stories are weird and trippy, and I mean that as a compliment. Great writing and characterizations, and each story felt unique and unlike anything I’ve read – really pushed some boundaries. Has a nice philosophical – almost existential feel. I will definitely be checking out works from Mr. Coles in the future. (5 stars)
    -I love reading short stories and these ones by William H. Coles were some of the best I’ve read in a while! I appreciate the author’s easy and graceful use of powerful words to paint each situation and give deep imagery beyond compare. His writing is very descriptive and pulls you in to each character’s ‘story’. Some of the stories were sad, some dark and snarky or funny, and some just… were… kinda bizarre. Loaded with skillful literary prose. The editing was near flawless. The stories were all very interesting, and different from one another, and I liked how they deliver an emotional punch and ask the deeper questions – forcing us to look at life through a different filter for a while. While the stories themselves are relatively fast read (5-20ish ages), on the whole the book comes in at a hefty 500 pages and has some mature themes, but a quality collection that will appeal to adult fans of lit fiction. (4 stars)
    -“Short Fiction of William H. Coles” was an engaging read that I got through in the course of a few weeks, indulging in a few stories a night. I like reading short stories on occasion to switch it up from my normal routine, and because I feel that when done right they can affect you in a different way than a long book or novel can. Overall, I found the writing quality to be excellent as usual (only minor proofing issues), and I was truly impressed with the amount of ‘story’ Coles managed to utilize in such a short amount of space. I really enjoyed the writing and the atmosphere of each one, even though they are all different from each other, the whole book shared a collective ‘feel’ that was quite appealing. I really liked several of them, but because “Sister Carrie” is the longest and most complex, I think I enjoyed that one the most. An interesting and eclectic collection, but all unified with strong, beautiful writing and a sense of deeper emotion that covers a wide range of the human experience. Highly recommend. (4 stars)
    -“The Short Fiction of William H. Coles 2000-2016” was great! It is a collection of literary short stories, and the style is difficult to master, telling a compelling ‘story’, but doing so where the message and the actual narrative and prose is just as important and powerful than the actual point of the story itself. This is tough to do, but it seems that Mr. Coles pulls is off with an elegant ease that makes you just want to keep reading more and more. Loved these stories, especially “The Gift” and “The Bear” and “Clouds”. But all were deep, interesting, and atmospheric, and had their own theme. Even the ones I didn’t *really* love (or understand) were still well-written with near flawless editing. Surreal in vibe and memorable. Liked the illustrations as well, and the graphic novels were cool (just wish I could read the writing easier). Would definitely read more from this author in the future! (4-5 stars)
    -As a huge reader of books, and most of them indie or small-press published, I’ve pretty much accepted the fact that there will be certain things that won’t be up to the same standards as the big press published books, usually in editing or (more commonly) the quality of writing. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the top-notch professionalism in this book, from the editing to the strength of the narration and the complexity of the characters and engaging storylines—a real challenge considering the shorter length of these stories. Great idea to mix it up including some illustrations/drawings throughout and also throwing in a few graphic novels in the mix. I haven’t read one in years, and it was a nice treat. This anthology is one of the better ones I’ve read, and kudos to Mr. William Coles for raising the bar. He is always on my list of authors to watch. Recommend for readers of literary/ short-story story fiction. (5 stars)
    -What a refreshing change this book was! I loved it! I was so into each story, and as soon as it was over I was so curious to see what the next one would be about! While none of the stories were connected to each other (not sure why I thought they would be), they mostly all had the same similar literary and emotional and ‘human’ vibe and is written in such a way that you feel very engaged and a part of their story, like you really know the characters and are in their shoes. They are all good stories, but I think “The Activist” was so intriguing– dark and heavy subject matter- not ‘happy’ but real and something you know someone has probably experienced. The coolest part was how these stories were realistic in a way, yet each had a surreal/mysterious feeling to them, like there’s more going on than we ever really know… like we only saw the slightest glimpse of something bigger. And the whole book had great editing and presentation. Well done. (5 stars)
    -I think that William H. Coles may have made a short-story fan out of me! I’ve always had a bit of an aversion to them, mostly because I like to feel a deeper connection to the characters and stay in their world for a long while. I’m big on the escapism of reading. But I was surprised how effective Coles was in totally transporting us to another place and where we can really experience another’s lives (or a brief segment of it) enough to see things through their vision. There was a good amount of details and descriptive prose that added to the scenery without bogging it down any. Good pacing overall, near perfect editing. Very impressive and I’ll happily read more from Mr. Coles when his next book is available…hopefully soon! Warning, the author does not shy away from subject matter that may make some people uncomfortable (death, abuse, murder, traumatic childbirths, etc…) so be prepared to feel the feels and not be easily shocked. (4-5 stars)
    -Wow, these stories were great! Totally not what I normally read at all, (haven’t read any short stories since college lit class) but I’m glad to have stepped outside my normal genres for a change. What these stories lack in action or adventure they more than make up for in emotional punches, bizarre twists, shocking events, and unpredictable characters. And it will definitely take you out of your ‘comfort zone’ for a while… I liked how the stories were a bit dark without being too outlandish or depressing. Just gritty… real. The writing was easy to get lost in and the dialogue of the characters always sounded genuine and authentic. Mature readers only. (4 stars)
    -Loved this. One thing I like best about short stories is how the author has no time to mince words, simply getting right to the heart of the matter and letting us escape our lives and visit other peoples for a spell. I like the stories each had their own distinctive personality and identity, and none were predictable or ordinary. In fact, I was genuinely surprised by sudden turn of events (usually delivered in one simple sentence) several times. This kept me invested in the book as a whole, knowing that each story had the ability to engage, interest, and surprise me. Very well done and I think this author is terrifically talented; his writing is so easy to read, but delivers so much. Has a great way of dissecting humanity and the human condition on a deeper level and even though some scenes are pretty uncomfortable to read, they are real and if nothing else makes you appreciate your life a little more. Hope to read more from him in the future. (5 stars)
    -I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of short stories (and graphic novels and a novella) by William H. Coles. In all the different stories, the characters are interesting and their stories are well-told. Each story pulls the reader into a mile or a moment in a stranger’s shoes – you touch the texture of lives and find alienation, longings, suffering, and loves woven together, as they must be to keep out the cold. It’s been a few weeks since I finished reading it and the characters and their fates have stayed with me… I know I will be re-reading this short-story collection soon, and I think it might even be better the second time around. Some stories resonated more with me than the others, but all in all I enjoyed each one in their own way. I wouldn’t necessarily call this a “feel good happy book”, but it touches on many elements and emotions of life— good and bad without being overly emotional or melodramatic. Just take a chance, you’ll like it. (5 stars)
    -Hat’s off to the author William H. Coles for doing something that many writers fail to do—tell good stories! It’s especially hard to do so in fewer pages than a whole novel, and despite what one may think (due to shorter length), it is actually quite difficult. I know because I’m a writer too. Your writing must be tight, focused, to the point, but also able to convey enough descriptions and actions to get the reader engaged right away. No easy task! What Mr. Coles is able to do in a few dozen pages with the impact of emotion and intrigue, many writers can’t do at all… It’s weird because the stories it may seem simple but there are more complexities to be discovered, and things are rarely what they first seem. I feel like I could go on and on, but really just read the first few stories and see if you aren’t hooked… Best suited for older teens and adults due to the nature of the subject matters. Highly recommended!!! (4-5 stars)
    -This is one of those books that came into my life at just the right time. I had been reading a number of rather long and heavy novels and a collection of short stories was just what the doctor ordered to get me out of the early stages of a burnout. Since no story in this collection is really tied to any other story, this unifying theme is really just covering a wide range of emotions for the human experience, but mostly on the darker side (not macabre or horror, just some ‘harsher’ realities of real life. When it comes to short story collections, I’m rarely on the fence. I either hate or love the entire collection and this is one book that I thoroughly enjoyed and would recommend to just about anyone. Nice addition of the graphic novels at the end too, and the drawings throughout added great flavor. Adults only. (5 stars)
    -This is a collection of short stories. And it’s unlike anything I’ve read before – ever. It’s so beautifully and powerfully written, but with great word economy. William H. Coles’ writing style alone could make just about any story interesting. Each one is unique in style and emotionally captivating. Sometimes I’d I get to the end of each story and think, “huh?” But immediately went on to the next story wondering how he was going to top the last one. I’m pretty sure Mr. Coles breaks just about every rule of creative writing and actually manages to pull it off brilliantly and capture my imagination and emotions. I know I’ll be on the look-out for his next book just to see where he’s goes next. Highly recommend for adult fans of literary fiction/drama/short stories.(5 stars)
    -Eloquent and poignant – THE SHORT FICTION OF WILLIAM COLES (2000-2016) is a must read for lovers of literary fiction and classic tales of drama and the human experience/condition. This book falls into that rare group that tells unexpected and original stories that don’t rely on cliché’s or overused plot devices. The short story length of each one keeps you interested from beginning to end, and if you are like me you’ll find you just want to keep reading all the way through to the end. But there are over 30 stories here, including a longer novella at the end, and to my delight a few graphic novels which I haven’t read since I was a teen. I found some stories to be more impactful personally, but each were well executed and left me with a deeper sense of the world around me. A very solid effort from William Coles. (4 stars).
    -William H. Coles writes with a confidence and clarity that is rare to find in authors these days. The words just flowed off the pages, and I was easily swept up in the narrative prose. While these stories varied in length, they are all on the shorter side and can be easily read in brief amount of time which is great for someone like me who is able to read only in small spurts of time here and there. I like that I am easily able to finish a story (or 2) and see it wrap up. Even though I liked some of the tales more than the others, as to be expected I’m sure, each offered something worthwhile and stood out in a special way. Liked the illustrations as well. Nicely edited and I thought it was neat that the author threw in some different styles at the end as well. Recommend for older fans of literary/short fiction. (4 stars).
    -Review of “The Short Fiction of William H Coles” —This is a collection of “Americana” type short stories that are all varied, yet all impressive. Other short story collections I’ve read before have been collaborations of several different authors, therefore giving a more disjointed feeling to it… this one is all done by the same author, and I really appreciated how cohesive it made it feel, even if the stories weren’t related or even similar, I liked how the author’s writing style and ‘voice’ stayed consistent throughout. Each story revealed something new and different, whether its family relationships, internal conflicts, or external struggles… all things people can understand on different levels. An excellent novel and one that I highly recommend. (5 stars)
    -Truthfully I haven’t read any short stories in years and years, and it’s not normally a method of storytelling that I naturally gravitate towards. But based on the other books I’ve read by William H. Coles and how much I enjoyed those, I gave his short story collection a chance. Imagine my surprise when I read almost half of the (very long) book in a single evening, and finished it entirely the next. And when I was done I was a bit sad. I wanted more! I was surprised that I almost felt like I got MORE out of this book because the stories were shorter and I was able to experience several different lives and events and perspectives, much more so than with a normal full-length novel. It was interesting, and really kept my attention. Some parts were sad, some funny, some not so funny, some shocking and even horrifying… but all in all was engaging and will stay with me for some time. Recommend to fans of general and lit fiction, and relationship/family life tales. (4-5 stars)
    -Exceptional writing and skillfully crafted, I thought “The Short Fiction of William H. Coles” was a delightful and eclectic collection of some of the more insightful stories I’ve read in recent memory. Definitely better than many other collections I’ve read before (some by famous big name authors, too!) IMO this book is worth the time and money (such a bargain!!!) and is a “Must Have” if you enjoy reading short stories. There were too many “favorites” to choose just one or two… probably at least a dozen were amazing (out of 30+ that’s not too shabby!!) (5 stars).
    -Awesome. Don’t read if you are looking for light and fluffy… but if you want flawed and troubled characters who speak to your heart and psyche and pull you into their worlds from the safety of your own, then dive right in. And each story is different, but they all have a familiar thread of love and loss, loneliness, changes, dealing with difficulties, etc… all with strong writing and gorgeous descriptions. Recommended for adults only (4-5 stars).
    -Read the whole thing and liked it… not sure which story was my favorite, maybe either the first one, or the last one (the longest novella)… but all were pretty interesting, and I was never bored or disappointed. Not sure if this is my favorite way to read a book— I think I just prefer more plot arc and longer stories (these average anywhere from 4-30 ish pages on my Kindle) but I can be sure that lots of people will enjoy it. The characters, the descriptions, and the story elements are all quite powerful and the author Mr. Coles knows how to write about people in a way that few can. (3 stars).
    -Wow, I LOVED this book! OMG, I have been looking for a book like this for the longest time…. I’m so glad I found it! I love short stories as I have such a limited time to read these days and I like to be able to wrap it up in a single sitting. Unfortunately it seems that so many times the shorter fiction pieces fail to really capture enough of my attention and when the story is over it’s kind of a letdown. But almost without exception I thought these were all so good, and I almost with the author could continue to write even more about these fascinating characters! Sometimes I felt like we just got a small taste and it left me to wonder what happened to them next…Although their stories do tie up, so not sure how that could happen. Regardless, a GREAT read and I’m happy to have discovered this talented author! All of his books have been such a treat, I think. It has some heavier issues and scene that might bother very sensitive readers but it’s nothing too terrible. Just real. Recommend for mature fans of literary short stories (and graphic novels! Ha) (5 stars).
    -It’s been a long time since I’ve read what I’d consider to be literary fiction, in novel or short-story form, as too often I feel the author is more interested in showing off fancy language and overwriting descriptions than in telling a good story. But I found that William H. Coles managed to do both in the sense that he told good stories, but did it in a beautiful way with brilliant word choices that only enhanced the overall story experience. This collection covers a wide range of emotions, from funny to downright tragic. But the underlying theme is one of the constant struggle to connect with each other, and with ourselves. I will certainly read this book again in the future, along with anything else Mr. Coles may write. Most suited for adults. (5 stars)
    -This is kind of a hard book to review since it’s broken up into different stories so it’s not like I can describe each one or rate them separately. Because some I liked, some I LOVED, and some where just okay for me… and there was one I didn’t like at all! (haha, can’t win em all!) But if I were to tell someone about this, I’d say that even if you don’t care for the plot itself, or what the story is actually about (or the decisions the characters make), you will still enjoy the narration and the scenery/descriptions (and conversations). There is a similar vibe throughout the book that makes it flow seamlessly from one chapter to the next, but like I said, I thought some parts more enjoyable than others, but of course that is just personal opinion and it is up to each reader to decide what he or she will like! Try it. (4 stars).
    -As a huge fan of William H. Coles’s other works, (I’ve read several of his novels before), I was interested to see if his short fiction collection would measure up, and deliver the same impactful experience I felt with the full-length books. I’m pleased to say that it was just as good, if not better in its own way. Instead of 1 amazing story I got 33! Again I was impressed with this author’s ability to write about something that may seem ordinary, but put an entirely unique perspective on it and really gets you to see the perspectives of the characters who are usually struggling, troubled, or flawed in some way. He is a very gifted writer and his stories are a treasure to read. Looking forward to more! (5 stars).
    -Another winner! I’d read other works by William H. Coles so I knew I had to read this book, a compilation of some of his short stories, a few graphic novels, and a novella. Simply brilliant!! This collection is unlike anything I’ve read—dark and deep with a genius literary twist. The writing is complex at times, yet vivid and conveys great emotion without being over-emotional. The prose is surreal at times, frighteningly observant and blunt at other times. Once again I have to give this author the highest rating because he is by far one of the most talented that I have had the privilege of reading lately and I have truly enjoyed it all. (5 stars).
    -William H. Coles does it again!! WOW, can this guy write or what? I’m having a hard time picking out my favorite story in this book, as there were several. Every once in a while, you read something that makes you totally forget about the outside world for a little while and you are totally transported to another level of consciousness. Not often, but when it happens, it is amazing. Time almost stands still and you feel a new part of your mind opening up, as if for the first time. That is how I felt while reading “The Short Fiction of William H. Coles. Completely engaged from the first page to the last, eagerly reading each story and devouring every word. I’ll say that I think I connected better with the longer stories than I did with the shorter ones, although each their own mark, and in my opinion that is where Mr. Coles’ real strength lies…a rare gift indeed. Can’t wait to read more from in in the future! (5 stars)
    -I really have enjoyed several of William H. Coles novels (if you haven’t read them, you should really check them out), so I had high hopes for this book “The Short Fiction of William H. Coles- 2000-2016” I have to say that while there was definitely some differences between this and his novels, most notably in the length, for some reason I think I liked this one even better than the novels, because we got to experience so much more… instead of having one dish to eat we had 33. Pretty incredible. Also I had that sense of ‘instant gratification’ in being able to complete an entire story in one sitting instead of weeks later. Mr. Coles is clearly a gifted writer; there is no doubt about that. But I thought some of these stories, and the fact that he can do it in a range of styles effectively—from stories ranging from a few pages, to entire novels, to graphic novels and novellas—nothing short of mind blowing. I feel like I could easily read this book again and get even more out of it the next time around. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. If you want to experience some top-tier writing with a darkly genius narrative that exposes so many hidden truths about humanity and human nature, this is the book for you. (5 stars).
    -I think what I like the most about reading William H. Coles’s books is how he can write about something that may seem quite ordinary or even simple, yet beneath the surface there are layers of subtext and hidden meanings. I would LOVE to see a book like this discussed in a college lit class, or maybe even a book club. Maybe it’s because I feel the need to talk about it with someone. Powerful, elegant, vivid writing coupled with a wicked imagination and fierce intelligence and astute insight on people and their ‘stories’ is a recipe for a book unlike any other that I won’t soon forget. Also read my first graphic novel here… I liked it! Highly recommend to fans of literary fiction and short stories, but even if those aren’t your usual genres you will probably be amazed by this book. I know I was! (5 stars).
    -Wow, what did I just read? That was freakin’ awesome! Ha! I’m not even a real big fan of short stories, but I like William Coles’s other books so I figured this one would probably be pretty good too. Wow, they were awesome! The short stories almost read like a surreal stream of consciousness, but one that is very real, yet unusual circumstances, if you know what I mean. I feel like nothing I say will capture the essence of this fantastic collection! William Coles utilizes so many different styles and voices, it’s almost hard to believe only one man was writing all this. Great touch with the pictures throughout for each story, and the ones in the graphic novel were great. Must read for fans of literary fiction, short stories. Some of the best I’ve come across lately, hands down. (5 stars)
    -I thought this was an interesting and entertaining book, and the pictures were terrific! It almost seemed like a mish-mash of several different styles, both in illustration methods and writing the different stories (both the straight forward stories and the graphic novels)… can’t say I’ve ever really seen another book do it this way. There are lots of interesting characters and while I can’t say that there is any real overall ‘message’ here, it seems to just do a great job of expanding your awareness of the world around you and the wide range of lives that people lead and things they experience. We never know what struggles someone is going through just to look at them, and many of these stories provided a profound ‘glimpse’, if you will… some parts are even pretty ‘deep’. Some stories felt a bit flat to me, and it could use some better proofing in some places. But as it was, this was a really entertaining and edgy and even eye-opening book. (3.5 stars)
    -I am of mixed feelings of this book “The Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016” mainly because while I enjoyed several of these stories to a degree, many felt like they were missing something to me – some strange plot twist or character development or profound epiphany or life lesson… something. Just felt like it didn’t really have a beginning or end and sometimes I felt left hanging, like the story was incomplete and I don’t like that. Just didn’t flow as easily as I would’ve liked. However, the stories were very well written and makes some very valid, interesting observations. Heavy topics on life are broached, and it all felt very unique and original, to be sure. Worth a read. Adults only (3 stars)
    -I am a huge fan of short stories (and graphic novels!) of all kinds, and I thought “The Short Fiction of William H. Coles” makes more than a respectable showing in this genre. I commend the author for taking creative license both in narrative and creative techniques, combining many different methods that may be off-putting to some, but to me just added to the unique aspect of the book. Like with all of William H. Coles books that I’ve read so far (this is the 5th or 6th now, I believe) he has a remarkable ability to see inside people and their ‘lives’ and get us the reader to really experience conditions first hand that we never would otherwise. Almost like seeing life through a different set of glasses. These stories are brutal at times, heartwarming and inspiring and sometimes quite sad… but all touch on humanity in a way that is what literature is all about. Very good drawings/sketches that are lively and full of emotion. And the graphic novels at the end was a brilliant touch! Recommend for older readers due to mature themes and subject matter at times. (4-5 stars).
    -I can’t remember that last time I finished reading a book and immediately told my boyfriend that he had to read it after me. We usually have very different reading tastes, but I knew that this book would be something he’s really enjoy. William H. Coles manages to tell deeply emotional, moving and even profound situations in a way that isn’t sappy or melodramatic… just genuine and authentic ‘human’ experience. The stories seem real – like something that really happened to someone. And each time I started a new story I feel like I got just as invested—if not more so—than in the one before it. Some of the endings felt abrupt and sudden, and I’d wish there was more closure or follow through but perhaps that was the point – to make us wonder. That’s what makes books stay with you long after you are done… you still think about the characters days later. That doesn’t happen to me a lot but it did here. Some stories left a bad taste in my mouth (they weren’t very pleasant) but I understand and appreciate what Coles was trying to convey. Great pacing til the end and I’d recommend this without hesitation. (4.5 stars)

  38. Christian Sia

    Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016 by William H. Coles is 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.

  39. Ruffina Oserio

    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.

  40. Viga Boland

    “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’ 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 Cole’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.

  41. Rabia Tanveer

    Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016 by William H. Coles is 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.

  42. Gisela Dixon

    Illustrated Short Fiction of William H. Coles: 2000-2016 by William H. Coles 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.

  43. Kirkus Reviews

    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.

  44. Laurie Weatherlow

    The Short Fiction of William H. Coles 2000-2016 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.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published.