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Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks
Short stories

Uncommon Type


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

by Tom Hanks

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Quick take

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


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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Uncommon Type
From chapter one:

Three Exhausting Weeks

Day 1

Anna said there was only one place to find a meaningful gift for MDash—the Antique Warehouse, not so much a place for old treasures as a permanent swap meet in what used to be the Lux Theater. Before HBO, Netflix, and the 107 other entertainment outlets bankrupted the Lux, I sat for many hours in that once-splendid cinema palace and watched movies. Now it's stall after stall of what passes for antiques. Anna and I looked into every one of them. MDash was about to become a naturalized U.S. citizen, which was as big a deal for us as it was for him. Steve Wong's grandparents were naturalized in the forties. My dad had escaped low-grade thugs that were East European Communists in the 1970s, and, way back when, Anna's ancestors rowed boats across the North Atlantic, seeking to pillage whatever was pillageable in the New World. The Anna family legend is that they found Martha's Vineyard.

Mohammed Dayax-Abdo was soon to be as American as Abdo Pie, so we wanted to get him something vintage, an objet d'patriotic that would carry the heritage and humor of his new country. I thought the old Radio Flyer wagon in the second warehouse stall was perfect. "When he has American kids, he'll pass that wagon on to them," I said.

But Anna was not about to purchase the first antique we came across. So we kept hunting.

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Why I love it

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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Member ratings (2,692)

  • Erika S.

    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

  • Nancy B.

    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.

  • Stefani G.

    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

  • Courtney L.

    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.

  • Anthony A.

    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.

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