Of all the hats he wears, Tom Hanks is most well known as a beloved actor in countless hit movies. Uncommon Type is his first foray into the fiction writing world. A collection of seventeen short stories that take place both in the past and in the future, starring war veterans and groups of friends. These tales vary in theme yet have one element that links them all together: a typewriter.
This anthology of short stories was such a joy to read. I loved the different styles of storytelling that Hanks works into each tale. It isn’t just seventeen straightforward narratives. There is a screenplay, there are newspaper articles and a few separate stories that feature the same group of friends. The emotional range of this collection is also just as varied, I found myself laughing one moment at the absurdity to being completely touched at a heart-wrenching scene. Two of my favourites come one after the other near the end of the book: “The Past Is Important To Us” and “Stay With Us”. In such a relatively small number of pages, Hanks was able to completely transport me into a different place and time, and I got sucked right into that world.
I’m not sure if it was intentional or not, but I found it delightful when I realized that some of the settings of the stories could be linked back to some of his major motion pictures. There’s one set in space, one about the war, a few about New York, mentions of Philadelphia… loved it!
Given the talent of his acting, I admittedly had very high hopes for this new medium and I wasn’t disappointed. Hanks’ writing infuses his wit, heart and sincerity into these stories of life and friendship. While there’s a common element in each one, the typewriter is not always a prominent feature in the story. Rather, it’s sometimes an Easter egg that just pops in for the briefest of moments. Uncommon Type was truly a captivating debut from a talented new(!) author of fiction.