Friday, June 29, 2018

Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hank (on CD)

Uncommon Type
by Tom Hanks [Compact Disc Hanks] 

I think I may hate Tom Hanks now. He truly is a renaissance man, with the golden touch — it seems that everything he tries, he’s successful at. I still remember him starring with Peter Scolari in the sitcom Bosom Buddies in 1980-1982, as an outrageous and desperate young advertising man who had to cross-dress in order to secure a room in a woman’s boarding house. Since then, he’s gone on to win multiple Oscars (Forrest Gump, Philadelphia) and Emmys (for producing mini-series and others), as well as dozens of other awards for his acting, voice work, producing and screenwriting. Now…he’s put out his first volume of fiction — a short story collection, including 17 stories, all featuring typewriters in one way or another (Hanks is enamored of these old-fashioned writing implements, and has an extensive collection of these classic machines). The typewriters may be integral to the plot of the story, such as in “These Are the Meditations of My Heart”, in which a young woman recovering from a break-up decides to buy a typewriter to put her thoughts down on paper but the shop owner has to match her up with the perfect machine just for her. But the typewriter element may also be very tangential to the plot of some stories. There are four stories told as folksy newspaper columns from a small town columnist who’s resisting the march of progress — these are perhaps the least successful entries in the collection. And there are three interlinked stories featuring the same group of young friends and their quirky adventures — these are perhaps the most fanciful of the stories included. The tone ranges from light and fluffy to dark and introspective, and the writing style runs the gamut from “newspaper column” to traditional prose fiction to press release to screenplay format.

Hanks does a good job of creating quirky characters, but none of them are particularly deep. In many cases, I felt like I was just scratching the surface of the character(s) in several of the stories, and they could easily have been expanded into novellas or novels. And other stories are just perfect at the length they are presented. Overall, this is a very enjoyable collection, and I particularly recommend it in the audiobook format, where Hanks reads his own stories. For the audiobook, Hanks convinced a bunch of his actor friends to help him read one of the longer pieces in the collection — the one written in screenplay format — which is an added treat.

[ publisher’s official Uncommon Type web page ] | [ official Tom Hanks Twitter account ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you read or listened to this one? What did you think? Did you find this review helpful?

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