Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Short Story Wednesday: Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks

Last December I went to a mini book sale before Christmas and one of the books I found was a collection of short stories by Tom Hanks, Uncommon Type. Per the jacket copy: "The stories are linked by one thing: in each of them, a typewriter plays a part, sometimes minor, sometimes central."

I read the first five stories in the collection, but I will focus on the first one, "Three Exhausting Weeks."

In this story, Anna and the unnamed narrator start up a relationship. He is a pretty laid back guy, with no plans for the future but enough money to support himself, and she is a major Type A personality who never takes a moment to rest or relax. They have known each other since high school.

She wants to change his life, which drove me crazy immediately but did not bother him too much. So for three weeks she manages his life, orders him around, and changes his diet. 

This is definitely not a "they lived happily ever after" story, but there was no sad ending either. It was a lot of fun, if a bit unrealistic. 

The remaining four stories I read were all good also. A couple of them were more serious and sometimes sad. I will be finishing up the collection in the next few months.

These are the stories in the collection:

  • Three Exhausting Weeks
  • Christmas Eve 1953
  • A Junket in the City of Light
  • Our Town Today with Hank Fiset–An Elephant in the Pressroom
  • Welcome to Mars
  • A Month On Green Street
  • Alan Bean Plus Four
  • Our Town Today with Hank Fiset–At Loose in The Big Apple
  • Who’s Who?
  • A Special Weekend
  • These Are the Meditations of My Heart
  • Our Town Today with Hank Fiset–Back from Back in Time
  • The Past Is Important to Us
  • Stay with Us
  • Go See Costas
  • Our Town Today with Hank Fiset–Your Evangelista, Esperanza
  • Steve Wong Is Perfect


pattinase (abbott) said...

I meant to put this on reserve at the library and then COVID struck.

George said...

I'm fascinated by Tom Hanks's large collection of typewriters. CBS Sunday Morning featured Hanks and all his typewriters on one of their shows.

Rick Robinson said...

You don't mention how the typewriter plays into the story. I'm also reminded there is anther anthology of typewriter stories out there.

Margot Kinberg said...

I've been wanting to read this one, Tracy. It does sound like a good collection, and I've been curious about it. Thanks for the reminder.

Nan said...

What a cool thing that he writes! Thank you. I hadn't heard about it.

TracyK said...

The collection is worth seeking out, Patti. When you try it, I would be interested in what you think of it.

TracyK said...

George, when I bought this at the sale, my husband mentioned that Tom Hanks collects typewriters. There is a documentary about typewriter collections that Hanks is featured in. I would love to see that.

TracyK said...

Rick, in "Three Exhausting Weeks" a typewriter is only mentioned in passing in a few sentences about whether Woodrow Wilson used a typewriter in the White House. In "Christmas Eve 1953", a typewriter features more prominently... in letters to Santa. "Christmas Eve 1953" was actually my favorite story of the five, but I hope to remember to feature it next Christmas.

When I started reading this book, I was reminded of Escapements, the book you sent me last summer. The subtitle is: Typewritten Tales from Post-Digital Worlds. I will trying some stories from that one soon also.

TracyK said...

Margot, you should read this. The stories are varied and I enjoyed the ones I read.

TracyK said...

Nan, I think you would like these stories. I didn't not know what to expect, and I was pleased with the ones I read.

col2910 said...

Hmm, probably not. I've kind of been put off "celebrity writing" ever since I saw some scathing reactions to something Sean Penn wrote a couple of years ago. Maybe I'm harshly pre-judging Mr Hanks, but I've enough books anyway and I doubt he needs the sale!

TracyK said...

Col, I probably would not have tried this book if it had not been at the booksale at a low price. But it worked out well for me, so that's good.

Cath said...

I'd forgotten he'd written this book of short stories and am intrugued by it. Will see if the library has it 'when' it reopens... looks like it might be April.

FictionFan said...

Somebody mentioned to me that he recorded the stories as an audiobook - might be quite fun listening to him reading them!

TracyK said...

Cath, this would be a good book to try when your library reopens. April sounds a long time away, but I am sure the time will pass fast.

TracyK said...

FictionFan, I remember that comment on your blog in an earlier post. That may have been the motivator for me picking this book of short stories to try next. And it was a good choice.

I haven't listened to any audio books but I imagine this one would work well, with Hanks as the reader.

Lex @ Lexlingua said...

I've seen this book doing the rounds, not a great read but some interesting parts. Yes? And the more I read about this book, the more it reminds me of the app Tom Hanks started, which I really like - The Hanx Writer, which is a lot like the typewriter effect. I like that app a lot!
~ Lex (lexlingua.co)

TracyK said...

Lex, I have still only read the first 5 stories, and of those I thought 3 of them were very good, the other two interesting. But readers often differ in reactions to stories so it is understandable that some people are not as impressed as I was.

The Hanx Writer sounds interesting but I don't have an iPad or iPhone.