Thursday, March 22, 2018

"Uncommon Type" by Tom Hanks

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!

8 comments:

  1. I HAD NO IDEA THAT TOM HANKS WROTE A BOOK??? Woah, I really want to read this!

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    1. Evangeline, I know, right? I don't even remember how I found out about it -- probably on a book blog somewhere. I was on a list to get it from the library for like 3 months, and it was totally worth the wait.

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  2. So, the books sounds interesting but what I am really fascinated by is the old typewriter. I love them and want one desperately. And it is so pretty!

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    1. Jennifer, aww, thanks! It IS really pretty. I'm happy to have it :-) You can buy an old typewriter fairly reasonably on Etsy or ebay. Or spend thousands on them, too, but a cursory search pulled up quite a few under a hundred bucks that looked great and said they worked.

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  3. I didn't know he wrote a book either! How neat is that! This sound really interesting, I would love to read this. I learned to type on a manual typewriter and I LOVED my mom's Underwood, though she didn't let me type on it. I had my own smaller typewriter that I used.

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    1. DKoren, I know, right? Just so cool. He's got a way with emotions and characters, for sure. I think you might dig it.

      Wow, your mom had an Underwood? Spiffy!

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  4. Love the pic you took - beautiful colour matching 💙

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    1. Thanks, Brona Joy! It was such a perfect match, and so randomly! I was excited when I hauled the typewriter out and saw that yup, it was the shade of blue I'd remembered. (I don't get it out much, which is silly of me. Need to let me kids bang away on it sometimes. If it withstood me, it can withstand them.)

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