Star Rating: ★★★✰✰
So, in case you haven’t heard, Tom Hanks wrote a book of short stories based around typewriters, or at least containing a typewriter in some shape or form in each story. From a quick three-week romance, through a child’s first plane ride, to an immigrant’s experiences in New York, Hanks’ first dip into writing gives a heart-warming view of life in America.
I’m not really very good at reviewing books of short stories. I sometimes find it difficult to find the themes that connect all the stories, and therefore find it hard to make them all make sense as a whole.
But that wasn’t the case with Uncommon Type. The sense of nostalgia is prevalent in every story. It’s obvious in stories like ‘The Past is Important to Us,’ when a man continually revisits the past so as to meet a girl. And the Hank Feist interludes throughout the book have a definite sense of sentimentality for America’s past.
But even in the not so obvious ‘Welcome to Mars’, the coming of age story of a teenager and the secrets his father keeps from him, and ‘Stay With Us’, the uplifting story of a billionaire learning about life, a yearning for the past and a simpler life still comes through.
This nostalgia theme is evident in the typewriter theme as well. Personally I love a typewriter and reading this book just made me want to use my own much more than I do.
What really struck me about these stories was Hanks’ ability to create characters. Each and every character feels completely real and could easily be someone you know. This is something that isn’t always done well in short stories. There isn’t always as much time to create well-rounded and believable characters as there is in a novel, but Hanks’ manages to do it in every story he writes. Although they’re not all likeable characters, I have to admit. Anna in ‘Three Exhausting Weeks’ is horrendous, in my opinion. I don’t see what the guy sees in her at all, the fact that their relationship even lasted 3 weeks is astonishing to me.
But anyway, this book is great. The stories I would really recommend are ‘The Past Is Important to Us,’ ‘Christmas Eve 1954’ and ‘Go See Costas.’ They’re the ones that stayed with me the most once I had finished them.
The whole book is satisfying and uplifting, and makes you feel like you’re cosy beside a fire no matter where or when you’re reading them. Definitely give it a go.