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Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks
Short stories

Uncommon Type

Debut
We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Tom Hanks, on your first book!

by Tom Hanks

Quick take

Just as with his acting career, Hanks manages to do comedy and tragedy equally well in his writing.

Why I love it

Maris Kreizman
Author, Slaughterhouse 90210

You may have heard some buzz about a debut fiction writer by the name of Tom Hanks. Yes, him. The most likable movie star on the planet just happens to have published an entirely charming story collection that is artfully constructed and emotionally affecting. Beginner's luck? Maybe not. Just as with his acting career, Hanks manages to do comedy and tragedy equally well in his writing, even if there's some sillier stuff thrown in too (see if you can identify the story that I like to refer to as the Joe Versus the Volcano of the book).

Uncommon Type is centered around a reverence for the old-fashioned: whether in historical stories, contemporary ones, or even in a space travel sci-fi tale. Each story contains a reference to a typewriter, which truthfully I may have missed had it not been for the collection's title and jacket design and the fact that I’ve read that Tom is apparently obsessed with them. The typewriters are clues that each story is grounded in nostalgia, whether for old-timey expressions (Hanks's characters are prone to use phrases like, "Howdy do?" and "Ah, heck"), or old-timey storytelling (newspaper column interludes are interspersed through the book, written with an small-time "ace" reporter's cadence). If Hanks's prose contains words like "yowza" and the aside, "not that anyone gives a whoop," then perhaps the best example of his tone is a story written as a screenplay in which the soundtrack transitions from LL Cool J's "Mama Says Knock You Out" directly into "Mambo Italiano" by Dean Martin.

Best of all, Hanks's characters feel authentic, from the newly divorced mom who moves to a new neighborhood eager to begin a new chapter in her life, to a son who learns a relationship-damaging secret about his father during a morning surfing trip. I was especially fond of a story about the absurdities of an international press junket for a rising movie star that seems so Hollywood insider-y, I'll choose to believe it was written from personal experience. If you, like me, admire Hanks's mastery on the big screen, it's not a leap at all to imagine you'll love him just as much on the page.

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Synopsis

A collection of seventeen wonderful short stories showing that two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks is as talented a writer as he is an actor.

A gentle Eastern European immigrant arrives in New York City after his family and his life have been torn apart by his country's civil war. A man who loves to bowl rolls a perfect game ... and then another and then another and then many more in a row until he winds up ESPN's newest celebrity, and he must decide if the combination of perfection and celebrity has ruined the thing he loves. An eccentric billionaire and his faithful executive assistant venture into America looking for acquisitions and discover a down and out motel, romance, and a bit of real life. These are just some of the tales Tom Hanks tells in this first collection of his short stories. They are surprising, intelligent, heartwarming, and, for the millions and millions of Tom Hanks fans, an absolute must-have!

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Preview

Member thoughts

All (1968)
All (1968)
Love (505)
Like (1087)
Dislike (376)
2165 ratings
  • 23% Love
  • 50% Like
  • 17% Dislike
  • Nashville, TN

    These stories were all very well written. I am not typically a short story fan but bought this because of the author. I am glad I did. I loved how the typewriter was the common theme through them all.

  • Amherst, MA

    This a charming, old-fashioned book of short stories. There's humor, warmth, & some really cool premises. Whether you want to read about time travel or family life, there's something here for everyone

  • Phoenix, AZ

    Im obsessed with tom hanks and this book just extended that love!! I adored how every story revolved around 1 sole object, a type writer. Really expressed creativity and nostalgia for a simpler time.

  • Austin, TX

    I alternated between loving certain stories and being meh about a few. When I loved them though, I REALLY loved them. Like, brought tears to my eyes, made me laugh out loud, and hug the book. #worthit

  • Staten Island , NY

    Tom Hanks stars on the big screen and now I can say he stars as an author. The symbolism in the last chapter brought a feeling of joy. I loved the concept of the one common thread throughout the book.

  • Lincoln, NE

    Tom Hanks includes a typewriter in every story to tie together pieces of different lives. The short stories seem to end in a state of content or happiness, but they reach that state in wonderful ways.

  • Gainesville, FL

    I loved how Tom Hanks put in a type writer in every short story. It made me start looking for them and guessing. He is a really wonderful and thoughtful writer. I've let 5 of my friends read this book

  • Hillsboro, OR

    I loved how each story had it's own voice, yet you were still able to hear Tom's voice throughout. Very well written. The stories all made me wish for more, yet I didn't feel cheated on the endings.

  • Los Angeles, CA

    Is it possible to describe a book as cute? Well, this for sure is! Great stories ranging from humor, to heart warming, to jaw dropping. I couldn't put this down. You go through the stories so quickly!

  • Russellville, AR

    When I ordered this book, I wasn't sure what to expect. What I got was a book of complied short stories that made you fall in love with characters in a few pages and a new obsession with typewriters.

  • Kirkwood, MO

    Yes, I am a Nerdy fan of Tom Hanks, and a sucker for his boy-next-door charm. These stories were not only heartfelt and heartwarming, but the typewriter thing - had me at the first swipe of the keys!

  • Winchester, OR

    I was very suprised to see that he wrote a book. His short stories were easy to read and smoothly written. You can see his sense of humor even in his writing. I do hope he writes a full length novel.

  • Pacific Grove , CA

    I loved every single short story. It was clever and creative to have Typewriters interwoven into all of stories as a common theme. Tom Hanks has proven himself to be thoughtful and engaging writer.

  • North Hollywood , CA

    Tom Hanks. Do you need more of a review? Probably... this is a very thoughtful, at times serious, at times funny collection of short stories. Very quick read. Witty, timely. and thought provoking.

  • Nashville, TN

    I really enjoyed reading this collection of short stories. Each one was very different but I love how they all had something to do with a typewriter! Just a fun little twist! Tom Hanks is so good!

  • La Verne, CA

    Like having heart-warming, thought-provoking holiday conversations with a friend: renews your vigor for life and teaches you a thing or two about human nature. Just how a good vacation should be.

  • Warner Robins, GA

    A bit different than I normally read. There were a few that were just, Eh, but the good thing was that they were over quickly and I could move on to next story. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed it!

  • Tucson, AZ

    Excellent writing and fine examples of great power of a short story. I loved the opportunity to just enjoy a story without wondering where it was going to go. Hanks is a really good story teller

  • Mount Laurel, NJ

    I had very high expectations for this book, I mean it is TOM HANKS, and it met every single one of them. I loved each and every story in this book and it really gave more dimension to Tom Hanks.

  • Austin, TX

    I expected that the characters would all feel similar and underdeveloped, but I'm so glad I was wrong. I loved the characters, the details, the writing style, and the stories. Bravo, Mr. Hanks!

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