Friday, March 2, 2018

Uncommon Type - Some Stories by Tom Hanks

I'll admit my expectations were not very high for this collection of stories by actor/director/producer, Tom Hanks.  After all, with his connections and star power I didn't think it would be hard for him to get published.  Was I ever pleasantly surprised!  Hanks can really write well.  Some stories were better than others, but I find that to be the case with any short story collection (even a master like Alice Munro has some winners and some losers if you ask me).  But overall this was a great read - and this coming from someone who really prefers novels to short stories.

Every story in the collection featured a typewriter - in some cases it was central to the story; in others it was just a passing reference.  I found that common thread really held the collection together in a unique way.  Hanks' characters were also unique without being too weird to be relatable.  I also liked how three of the stories featured 4 of the same characters so that you could explore them in more depth (though one of the three, "Alan Bean plus Four", when the characters build a space ship to circle the moon was probably my least favourite story).  I was also not a huge fan of "The Past is Important to Us" where Bert travels back in time to a day in 1939.  I guess science fiction is just not my genre.

But I loved "Christmas Eve 1953" about a World War II veteran, "Welcome to Mars" about a teenaged boy's discovery his father is having an affair, "A Month on Greene Street" about a single mother's move to a new neighbourhood, and "Go See Costas" about an illegal immigrant to New York City.  You can also appreciate Hanks' insights when he writes about a struggling actress in "Who's Who" and in the form of a script in "Stay with Us".

All in all, this is a great read from a multi-talented man.

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