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 gentle Eastern European immigrant arrives in New York City after his family and his life have been torn apart by his country’s civil war. A man who loves to bowl rolls a perfect game–and then another and then another and then many more in a row until he winds up ESPN’s newest celebrity, and he must decide if the combination of perfection and celebrity has ruined the thing he loves. An eccentric billionaire and his faithful executive assistant venture into America looking for acquisitions and discover a down and out motel, romance, and a bit of real life. These are just some of the tales Tom Hanks tells in this first collection of his short stories. They are surprising, intelligent, heartwarming, and, for the millions and millions of Tom Hanks fans, an absolute must-have!
Netgalley provided me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review. At this point I’m convinced that there isn’t anything that Tom Hanks cannot do. Uncommon Type is a really decent début and just as funny as it is charming.
The book contains 17 stories that all feature a recurring object: the mention of a typewriter in each story serves as the red thread that ties the stories together. Moreover, there are some recurring characters and mention is often made of war. It seems as though Hanks has put his own interests and knowledge into the stories, which makes them more accurate and also provides the link to his career as an actor and filmmaker.
He has an enjoyable, witty writing style and effectively makes use of stylistic devices to enhance the story. The stories lend themselves to seriousness, like when the brutality of war is described, but also to humour and positive feelings. His writing style and descriptions make certain atmospheres or feelings tangible for the reader.
The stories themselves cover a wide variety of topics or situations. While some stories feature columns in newspaper format by the same character, other stories are – among other things – about an actress, a trip to the moon, time travelling, flying, Christmas, cheating and the act of buying a typewriter. Not all stories are about spectacular things and some can even be considered to be quite mundane. However, this also makes the stories more relatable.
As is usually the case with a collection of short stories, I liked some better than others. Some topics and characters were more interesting than others, endings delivered better. My personal favorites include Christmas Eve 1953 (hauntingly accurate portrayal of Normandy), Welcome To Mars (that ending!), These are the Meditations of My Heart (beautifully written and perfectly describes the beauty of typewriters) and the Past is Important to Us. However, the whole collection of stories makes for a great read. Hanks has shown that he is a skilled writer and I can’t wait to see how he develops as an author.