Uncommon Type is a collection of exactly the kind of short stories I would expect Tom Hanks to write. Charming, wry, compassionate, aggravated, humorous, offbeat, and sometimes just a bit weary. Three of the stories are interconnected, about a group of thirty-something-ish friends. There are also numerous "Our Town Today with Hank Fiset" editorial-column pieces that feel the most like they could be narrated by Hanks. The rest are unconnected short stories on various subjects.
Well, mostly unconnected. Every single one of these stories involves a typewriter somehow. Whether it's being used by a character or just mentioned casually, there's a typewriter somewhere in each one. Which lends an old-fashioned whimsy to even the modern-day-set stories.
These were my favorite stories:
+ "A Month on Greene Street" follows a single mother who moves into a new neighborhood and discovers new things about herself and her preconceived notions about people.
+ "At Loose in the Big Apple" is one of the 'Hank Fiset' editorials, and it discusses whether or not New York City is superior to a small town.
+ "These are the Meditations of My Heart" shows how learning to use an old-fashioned thing like a typewriter can help a modern young woman understand herself better.
+ "Back from Back in Time" is another of the 'Hank Fiset' editorials, and it ruminates on all the different times typewriters have been important in one aging writer's life.
+ "Stay with Us" is written as a screenplay, and it is a cute meditation on seeing new possibilities in old things, places, and people. I want it to be made into a short film starring Tom Hanks, Famke Janssen, and Chris Hemsworth. And directed by Ron Howard. Please? Thank you.
If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: mostly PG and PG-13, but stories "Three Exhausting Weeks" and "Go See Costas" would get an R for content and language.
I happen to love old typewriters myself, so I really liked the loving way they got used in so many of these stories. This is a picture of the library copy I read on top of my mom's old portable typewriter! It was her high school graduation present from her parents in 1970. When I was about six, I started typing my first stories on it, and I used it for many years before graduating to my mom's old electric Smith-Corona as a teen. This is a manual typewriter -- you provide all the power yourself. Love it!