I am a huge fan of Tom Hanks. So when I saw that he was releasing a book of short stories, I was pretty excited. Especially since his stories center around typewriters, and I’ve been envious of Hanks’s incredible typewriter collection for years (seriously, if I ever become rich, that’s the first thing I’m buying).
(All reviews are spoiler-free unless otherwise noted.)
(From Goodreads) 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!
Tom Hanks is clearly a talented writer. I was impressed by his prose in each of the stories in Uncommon Type. I think it helped a lot that I listened to the audiobook version, because Hanks did a brilliant job of reading it. It was an absolute pleasure to listen to, and I loved all of the voices – it really enhanced the story. I think Hanks also set the tone for each story with his voice, which was great. One thing I didn’t get from the audiobook was the formatting. It wasn’t all that clear that some of the stories were formatted as newspaper articles or even plays – I was a bit surprised when I flipped through the physical book. I do think I liked the book better as an audiobook, but it’s worth noting.
I liked all of the stories, for the most part. Some more than others, but I don’t think there were any I didn’t like. My favorite is probably “The Past is Important to Us”, which is an intriguing story that blends historical fiction with science fiction, and has a pretty shocking ending. I also really enjoyed “A Special Weekend” and “Welcome to Mars”, which are both about children discovering that their parents are human. I think Hanks has a talent for capturing all different sorts of people, and that definitely showed in this collection. It was wonderfully, pleasantly diverse in a way that seemed more reflective of the actual world than in any way forced. It was refreshing.
However, while I enjoyed this collection, I wouldn’t say it’s for everyone. The writing style is a bit old fashioned – I wouldn’t be at all surprised had someone told me this was written in the 1950s – though not necessarily in a bad way. The stories are told in a matter of fact way, but still have plenty of emotion. I also think I enjoyed this book as an audiobook more than I would have had I read the physical copy. I’m a bit skeptical about the stories with unconventional formatting (I may read the hardcover later to see what I think). I wouldn’t say these were the best short stories I’ve ever read, but I enjoyed them.
★★★★☆ – Overall, I liked Uncommon Type. It was a fun book to listen to, and I think the stories are original and interesting. If you’re a fan of Tom Hanks (and his movies), I think you might enjoy this as well.
Uncommon Type is in stores now – you can pick your copy up on Amazon.
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