‘Uncommon Type’ is a book of 18 short stories which provides a comfort read, preferably in bed with Chinese take-out.
Would I purchase ‘Uncommon Type’ because Tom Hanks wrote it? Probably, because disappointment with Tom Hanks is not well known.
Uncommon Type is a comfort read, preferably in bed with Chinese take-out.
The stories, eighteen in total, range from humorous to heart-warming, nostalgic to thrilling. Curiously, in each story, there is a mention of a typewriter – sometimes occupying only a fleeting moment or acting as a game changer, or as a machine that always manages to bring back memories at crucial moments in the story.
It is evident that the author knows his characters well, which is no surprise considering Tom Hanks is an acclaimed actor. Take “Go See Costas” for example. The story revolves around Assan, an immigrant from Greece who struggles to make a living in America. The feeling of being an alien in another country, of being clueless is brought about distinctly, probably because Tom Hanks understands what it feels like to be unknown– like Victor Navorski in the 2004 drama, ‘The Terminal’.
A group of friends in a story they travel to the moon by building a spaceship out of supplies from the Home Depot. The reader wonders whether ‘Apollo 13’, has anything to do with the expertise with which the story was written.
What really draws attention is the author’s connect and empathy with each of the characters. The book is not a classic, neither is it a great work of fiction. But the fact that it offers heart-warming stories, with emphasis on understanding the characters is how the book leaves a mark. A certain sinking feeling grips the reader at the end of “A Special Weekend”, when Kenny, a little boy is caught between two families and is too innocent to understand the inevitability of separation that arises between his parents, and the growing disconnect that they share with their son.
Tom Hanks finds a way to ensure that these small, yet noble additions leave a mark.
The stories do have the potential of being represented as short films. Each story has so many visual elements clubbed with constant buzz of activity around the protagonists that it is not hard to imagine it as a moving image. Whether it’s set in the 70s or the present year, it is clear that the author knows how to make the scenario visually comprehensible and appealing.
It is also easy to imagine is Tom Hanks himself playing certain roles in the book. Which he does. Like ‘Hank Fiset’ the journalist, who writes columns in between stories in the book. His columns manage to break the flow a reader would acquire, which sometimes can be distracting.
The journalist grumbles over the slow death of the written world with the draconian rise of the digital in a humourous manner, though. But to provide it an actual column in a book that stands out for all the heartwarming stories fails to catch the attention of the reader.
However, considering that certain excerpts of the audiobook are available, the book guarantees the perfect Christmas – unless you manage to get Mr. Hanks to read them out for you.