A TIMES BOOK OF THE YEAR
A collection of seventeen wonderful short stories which show that two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks is as talented a writer as he is an actor.
A hectic, funny sexual affair between two best friends. A World War II veteran dealing with his emotional and physical scars. A second-rate actor plunged into sudden stardom and a whirlwind press junket. A small-town newspaper columnist with old-fashioned views of the modern world. A woman adjusting to life in a new neighbourhood after her divorce. Four friends going to the moon and back in a rocket ship constructed in the backyard. A teenage surfer stumbling into his father’s secret life.
These are just some of the people and situations that Tom Hanks explores in his first work of fiction, a collection of stories that dissects, with great affection, humour and insight, the human condition and all its foibles. The stories are linked by one thing: in each of them, a typewriter plays a part, sometimes minor, sometimes central. To many, typewriters represent a level of craftsmanship, beauty and individuality that is harder and harder to find in the modern world. In his stories, Mr Hanks gracefully reaches that typewriter-worthy level.
Known for his honesty and sensitivity as an actor, Mr Hanks brings both those characteristics to his writing. By turns whimsical, moving and occasionally melancholy, Uncommon Type is a book that will delight as well as surprise his millions of fans. It also establishes him as a welcome and wonderful new voice in contemporary fiction, a voice that perceptively delves beneath the surface of friendships, families, love and normal, everyday behaviour.
Mr. Hanks turns out to be as authentically genuine a Writer with a capital W as ever touched a typewriter key. The stories in Uncommon Type range from the hilarious to the deeply touching. They move in period, location and manner, but all demonstrate a joy in writing, a pleasure in communicating an intensely American sense of atmosphere, friendship, life and family that is every bit as smart, engaging and humane as the man himself. All with that extra quality of keenly observant and sympathetic intelligence that has always set Tom Hanks apart. I blink, bubble and boggle in amazed admiration.
Reading Tom Hanks’s Uncommon Type is like finding out that Alice Munro is also the greatest actress of our time.
All American life is here ... Delightful ... Hanks’s prose is impressive, with a strong voice and stylistic flair ... so fluent, convincing and confident that you forget it belongs to Tom Hanks, movie star. He's just a writer. And he’s going to write a great novel one day.
On the page, as on screen, Hanks is, simply, a lovely person to be around ... Hanks captures the child’s-eye view of the world with pitch-perfect accuracy … and as a writing project it nails perhaps the hardest thing of all: a story in which nothing and everything happens.
The central quality to Tom’s writing is a kind of poignant playfulness. It’s exactly what you hope from him, except you wish he was sitting in your home, reading it aloud to you, one story at a time.
Oscars season is upon us – did you know that some of the Best Actress and Best Actor nominees narrated Penguin audiobooks? Listen to some familiar faces read aloud from much-loved titles below.
"Bette’s mind processed the vision, the very first blemish in the fabric of her new life on Greene Street — the guy next door looking for a woman." Read on for a short story from Tom Hanks' Uncommon Type