Uncommon Type: Some Stories, by Tom Hanks

5 Mar

34377041Format: e-ARC, 416 pages

Publisher: Random House UK

Published: October 17, 2017

ISBN: 9781785151514

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

Back cover blurb: A collection of seventeen wonderful short stories showing that two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks is as talented a writer as he is an actor.

A hectic, funny sexual affair between two best friends. A World War II veteran dealing with his emotional and physical scars. A second-rate actor plunged into sudden stardom and a whirlwind press junket. A small-town newspaper columnist with old-fashioned views of the modern world. A woman adjusting to life in a new neighborhood after her divorce. Four friends going to the moon and back in a rocket ship constructed in the backyard. A teenage surfer stumbling into his father’s secret life.

These are just some of the people and situations that Tom Hanks explores in his first work of fiction, a collection of stories that dissects, with great affection, humour, and insight, the human condition and all its foibles. The stories are linked by one thing: in each of them, a typewriter plays a part, sometimes minor, sometimes central. To many, typewriters represent a level of craftsmanship, beauty and individuality that is harder and harder to find in the modern world. In his stories, Mr Hanks gracefully reaches that typewriter-worthy level.

Known for his honesty and sensitivity as an actor, Mr Hanks brings both those characteristics to his writing. Alternatingly whimsical, moving and occasionally melancholy, Uncommon Type is a book that will delight as well as surprise his millions of fans. It also establishes him as a welcome and wonderful new voice in contemporary fiction, a voice that perceptively delves beneath the surface of friendships, families, love and normal, everyday behaviour.

My review: I love typewriters. So does Tom Hanks, so this book seemed like something right up my alley. Starting out, though, I wasn’t so sure. I really didn’t like the first couple of tales, but it did get better as it went along. Some stories had only a tenuous connection to typewriters, but the ones that mentioned them a lot were my favourites and reminded me of the old ones I used in my journalism career and at home. Hanks uses his experiences in film to flavour the stories with astronauts, WW2 soldiers, pilots, and of course actors, but the overall feel is one of nostalgia. The best of the collection are “A Special Weekend”, “Welcome to Mars”, “The Past is Important to Us” and “Steve Wong is Perfect.” This collection makes me want to get the old portable out and bang out a letter.

***Disclaimer: This e-ARC was provided to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Huge thanks to them. ***

My rating: 3.5/5





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