Uncommon Type (2017) – Tom Hanks

I’ve been a fan of Tom Hanks’ since Bosom Buddies, I’ve watched him grow from a comedic actor to one of my favourite all time actors. I have delighted in his career, and love when he steps away from the front of the camera to work behind it, directing, producing, writing.

It was his writing that caught me this week, I was stopped dead in my tracks when I came across his book in my favourite book shop. I didn’t even have to read the jacket, I bought it without reading a single word.

What he has penned here is a collection of stories, seventeen in total, that give us glimpses into others’ lives, written with Hanks’ wit, earnestness and humanity. It is all reflected in the pages.

All the stories are connected, some only peripherally by the present of typewriters, but it is the tales he tells that truly involves.

Of course I have favourites, but all of them are engaging, moving, and often very funny. A few of the stories have returning characters, and another set are newspaper columns that laud the comforts, beauties and amenities of the small town.

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As I came to the close of the book, I was wowed by the experience, and found myself hoping that Mr. Hanks writes more in the future, whether it be another collection of stories or a full novel.

His passions are on display here, in stories like Christmas Eve 1953, when a yearly phone call takes place between two veterans and the past is recalled, or Alan Bean Plus Four, where a group of friends plan a trip round the moon. There is These Are the Meditations of My Heart which ended with my in tears of joy, and Stay With Us a Capra-esque screenplay that can’t help but make you smile.

The final tale, Steve Wong is Perfect is a hoot to read, because I can see my friend Dennis and I in that story, with our weekly trips to the bowling alley, oh so long ago. I should do that again.

Hanks writes in a way that seems completely reflective of his Hollywood image. He comes across as affable, someone you would delight in calling a friend, and someone you would love to sit and talk Apollo missions with, or find out how many times he’s seen 2001: A Space Odyssey projected.

There’s a comfort provided by his writing which makes you feel as if you’ve slipped on a loved, well-worn sweater with a mug of your favourite hot beverage under a sea of blankets with a book while snow falls lazily outside your window.

As a collection of short stories this one works beautifully, and it makes for a wonderful read. Pick one up, and let Hanks in.

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