Cover image for Uncommon type : some stories
Title:
Uncommon type : some stories
Uniform Title:
Short stories. Selections
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2017.

©2017
ISBN:
9781101946152
Physical Description:
viii, 405 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm
Language:
English
Contents:
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.
Abstract:
"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..."--Publisher annotation.
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Prescott Public Library4Received on 10/30/17
Cottonwood Public Library2Received on 10/27/17
Prescott Valley Public Library1Received on 10/12/17
Black Canyon City Community Library1Received on 11/20/17
Wilhoit Public Library1Received on 10/16/17
Beaver Creek Public/School Library1Received on 3/7/18

Summary

Summary

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!


Reviews 6

Publisher's Weekly Review

Oscar-winner Hanks's debut collection is a wide-ranging affair of 17 stories threaded together by the recurring image of typewriters-some stories, like the intriguing "These Are the Meditations of My Heart," build entire narratives around the machines, while others mention them in passing. In "Alan Bean Plus Four," one of the collection's best entries, four friends decide to build a backyard rocket and orbit the moon. These same characters star in two more stories, the enjoyable bowling yarn "Steve Wong Is Perfect," and the less noteworthy "Three Exhausting Weeks," which uses standard romantic comedy tropes in recollecting a wacky and doomed relationship. Hanks's stories sometimes lead to pat, happy endings, but not always-"Christmas Eve 1953" develops a simple holiday story into a rumination on war. Similarly, "The Past Is Important to Us" employs a sharp, unexpected conclusion to elevate a story of time travel and romance at the 1939 World's Fair. Hanks's narrators speak with similar verbal tics-multiple narrators say "Noo Yawk," for example-but the stories they tell generally charm. The only true misfires come when Hanks breaks away from traditional structure: the story-as-screenplay "Stay With Us" drags, and faux newspaper columns by man of the people Hank Fiset start clever but turn grating. 250,000-copy announced first printing. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Booklist Review

As an actor, Tom Hanks has an understated performance style; the hard work seems to get done under the surface, where we can't see it. All we see is the truth of the character. The same goes for the 17 short stories in this thoroughly engaging book, Hanks' fiction debut. Here are stories about friends who become lovers and then decide that wasn't a good idea; about old war buddies whose Christmas Eve conversation sparks some powerful memories; about a movie star enduring a press junket; about a billionaire and his assistant on the trail of acquisitions who find in America's heartland a humanity very different from their glass-tower world. The stories are brief and sometimes seem abbreviated, but they possess a real feel for character and a slice-of-life realism that combine to deliver considerable depth beneath the surface. A surprising and satisfying book from a first-time fiction writer. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Hanks is both much loved and often criticized as an actor; his writing, however, may well cross that divide with its undeniable craft and plainspoken insight.--Pitt, David Copyright 2017 Booklist


New York Review of Books Review

ARTEMIS By Andy Weir. Read by Rosario Dawson. (Audible Studios.) Dawson's nuanced voice takes us to the moon in the second novel by the author of "The Martian." UNCOMMON TYPE By Tom Hanks. Read by the author. (Penguin Random House Audio.) The Oscar-winning actor brings to life his debut collection of 17 loosely linked short stories. THE PURLOINING OF PRINCE OLEOMARGARINE By Mark Twain, with Philip Stead and Erin Stead. Read by Keegan-Michael Key, Philip Stead et al. (Listening Library.) The comedian and producer (and one half of the dynamic Key and Peele) narrates a previously unfinished and unpublished manuscript by Mark Twain, newly completed by the husband-and-wife children's book team behind the Caldecott Medal-winning "A Sick Day for Amos McGee." THE BOOK OF DUST By Philip Pullman. Read by Michael Sheen. (Listening Library.) The Welsh actor transports us into the fantastical parallel universe of Pullman's latest Y.A. trilogy, in which everyone has an inner daemon. PROMISE ME, DAD By Joe Biden. Read by the author. (Audible Studios.) The former vice president delivers his candid, heartfelt and inspiring memoir of losing his son Beau to cancer while facing political challenges foreign and domestic. & Noteworthy "O.K., I'm a nerd. I loved THE ODYSSEY from my first encounter in ninth-grade English class (the Robert Fitzgerald translation). The great questions of survival, cunning, treachery, exploitation and parental and marital love have never failed to transfix me, in whatever translation (Richmond Lattimore, Robert Fagles). But Emily Wilson's, the first into English by a woman, is a revelation. Never have I been so aware at once of the beauty of the poetry, the physicality of Homer's world and the moral ambiguity of those who inhabit it. Don't miss reading her enlightening translator's note, which explains how seriously she took up the challenge posed a few lines into the first book: 'tell the old story for our modern times./Find the beginning.' She wrestled with contemporary questions of feminism and colonialism without imposing them on the values of Homeric Greece. Her decisions to discard flowery conventions, and to limit herself to the number of the lines in the original poem, produce a version both fleet and vivid. Read for all this, but mostly to savor lines like these: 'he plunged into the sea and swooped between/the waves, just like a seagull catching fish,/wetting its whirring wings in tireless brine.'" -SUSAN CHIRA, SENIOR EDITOR AND CORRESPONDENT FOR GENDER, ON WHAT SHE'S READING.


Guardian Review

The actor's obsession with old-fashioned typewriters -- and experiences of capturing history on screen -- inspire this cinematic debut collection Actors who become writers often say they were motivated by a feeling that they could do no worse than the words they are given to speak. As Tom Hanks has appeared in three movies based on the novels of Dan Brown, it is perhaps surprising that it has taken so long for the actor to be goaded into publishing his own prose. He has started with stories, a standard beginners' form, although at 400 pages-plus this debut set has a heft that rivals the collected volumes of some short story veterans. Uncommon Type has more connective architecture than most collections: the first, seventh and last of the 17 stories feature the same characters, while four of the others take the form of pieces by a veteran columnist on a dying regional newspaper, Hank Fiset. He is the kind of hack who still likes to bash away at clattery metal keys, rather than purringly process his words on a screen, a preference that chimes with the overarching conceit of the book: each of the stories contains some reference to an old-fashioned typewriter. This turns the book into a sort of game of "Where's Olivetti?" In several stories set either side of the second world war, characters merely enter an office or have a mother who works as a secretary. Elsewhere, the cameos of technological nostalgia need to be more sneakily oblique: a crucial prop is discovered in a junk cupboard lodged behind "an old beat-up plaid typewriter case". The stories' recurrent image is autobiographical: Hanks has spoken about his collection of more than 50 old typewriters and appeared in a documentary on typewriter obsession. But however diligently readers watch for pre-digital keyboards, they are inevitably also on the lookout for other carbon copies -- fictional versions of Hanks himself, an unusually famous first-time fiction writer, who has offered this book rather than the more conventional memoir. There is often a powerful sense of other lives imagined at a level that goes deeper than writerly research It might interest Freud that a recurrent trope in Hanks's stories is stressing the dissimilarity of life to cinema: lovers worry that they have become "like characters in a movie"; siblings close in age refuse to dress "like twins in some movie". Strikingly, though, the strongest stories are the most cinematic. "The Past Is Important to Us" is a kind of Groundhog Day romcom, in which a man is repeatedly able to time travel to a 1939 World's Fair exhibit that depicts the America of 1960. "A Junket in the City of Light" enjoyably channels details and atmospheres of which Hanks has privileged knowledge. Rory Thorpe, an actor on a tour of European "markets" to promote the second sequel in the Cassandra Rampart action franchise, records -- on an antique typewriter he finds in a retro-decorated hotel suite -- a schedule that includes "Print Media Round Table #6 (approx 16 outlets)" and "TV interview with Petit Shoopi, a puppet who will ask you to sing along with her". This account has the thrill of personal horror fictionally mediated. As an actor, Hanks has also tried out an unusual variety of professions, settings and costumes, and some of these seem to have been a useful rehearsal for creative prose. Few other writers would have such easy access to precisely how it feels to wear the suits, shoes and hats that were male fashion in the 1930s. Apollo 13 surely helped with the moon-shot story, and Band of Brothers with the battle scene flashbacks in a tale about second world war veterans. Having played an investigative reporter in Nora Ephron's Broadway play Lucky Guy, and soon to portray the great Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee in the Steven Spielberg movie The Post, Hanks seems to have become a missionary for print journalism. Note that Hank Fiset, has a first name that comprises 83% of the author's second. There is often a powerful sense of other lives imagined at a level that goes deeper than writerly research. The author's day job less happily influences "Stay With Us", a 55-page squib in the form of a screenplay. And, although Hanks thanks many names for editorial advice, they could sometimes have done more. The best sentences have a serviceable plain, clean style: "For lunch they ate at a little market that also had sidewalk tables with checkerboard cloths." Elsewhere, though, there are clumsy word-clumps: a sequence involving both "ham salad" and "ham radio" becomes confusing, while "some" occurs three times within 11 words. Oddly, these are the sort of pile-ups that actors' ears lead them to remove routinely from scripts. The question writers are most commonly asked at literary festivals is whether they prefer to compose with a pen, laptop or typewriter, so Hanks, when puffing Uncommon Type, should prove the dream guest. But before attempting further fiction, he might be better employed translating "A Junket in the City of Light" or "The Past Is Important to Us" into the medium where his greatest talent lies. - Mark Lawson.


Kirkus Review

Seventeen wide-ranging and whimsical storieswith a typewriter tucked into each one.Only one of the stories in Hanks' debut features an actor: it's a sharp satire with priceless insider details about a handsome dope on a press junket in Europe. The other 16 span a surprisingly wide spectrum. There's a recently divorced mom who's desperate to avoid the new neighbor who might be hitting on her; a billionaire inventor who's become addicted to taking time-travel vacations; a World War II veteran whose Christmas Eve 1953 is disturbed by memories of Christmas Eve 1944; a young man who celebrates his 19th birthday by going surfing with his dad; a Bulgarian immigrant literally just off the boat, spending his first few days as a New Yorker. Three stories are editions of a small-town newspaper column called "Our Town Today with Hank Fiset." Three others feature a group of pals named MDash, Anna, Steve Wong, and an unnamed first-person narrator. In one story, the friends go bowling; in another, they go to the moon; in the third, the narrator and Anna try dating for three weeks only to find that "being Anna's boyfriend was like training to be a Navy SEAL while working full-time in an Amazon fulfillment center in the Oklahoma Panhandle in tornado season." Or as Steve Wong puts it, "We are like a TV show with diversity casting. African guy, him. Asian guy, me. Mongrel Caucasoid, you. Strong, determined woman, Anna, who would never let a man define her. You and her pairing off is like a story line from season eleven when the network is trying to keep us on the air." There's a typewriter in every tale, be it IBM Selectric, Royal, Underwood, Hermes 2000, or some other model. Hanks can write the hell out of typing, and his dialogue is excellent, too. Has he read William Saroyan? He should. While these stories have the all-American sweetness, humor, and heart we associate with his screen roles, Hanks writes like a writer, not a movie star. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Library Journal Review

In his debut collection, Hank's stories range in length from under ten minutes to an hour-plus. The actor, who narrates, displays a range of vocal textures that convey mood and tone. One story describes a time traveler from the near future who has fallen in love with a woman he met at the 1939 World's Fair and his reckless choice to stay in the past. Another is a satirical look at near--stardom. Yet another lightly raps the knuckles of certain trendy self-help concepts. And another is a poignant look at war on a Christmas Eve in the 1950s. All have a typewriter folded neatly into the plot, almost as an additional character. Blind listeners may find that the last story is dramatized in a manner that suggests an audio-described production. VERDICT Recommended for short story fans and Hanks devotees. ["Hanks's stories evoke dreams and flights of imagination that everyone has experienced, making the 'what ifs' of life tangible": LJ 10/15/17 review of the Knopf hc.]-David Faucheux, Lafayette, LA © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

A Month on Greene Street The first of August is usually only so notable--the start of the eighth month in the middle of summer on what might or might not be the hottest day ever . But this year, yowza, a lot was going on that day. Little Sharri Monk was sure to lose another tooth, a partial lunar eclipse was due around 9:15 p.m., and Bette Monk (mother of Sharri; her older sister, Dale; and her younger brother, Eddie) was moving them all into a three-bedroom house on Greene Street. The home so picturesque she knew she would live there the moment she saw the real estate listing. Bette had a vision-- pop --of herself and the kids in the kitchen for a busy breakfast. She was manning the stove-top griddle, turning pancakes, the kids in school clothes finishing their homework and fighting over the last of the orange juice . Her mental image was so focused, so particular, there was no question the house on Greene Street--oh, that massive sycamore tree in the front yard--would be hers. Theirs. Bette had visions--was there any other way to put it? Not every day and never with any spiritual glow, but she would sense a flash, she'd see a pop, like a photo of a vacation taken long ago that held complete memories of all that happened before and all that came after. When her husband, Bob Monk, had come home from work one day-- pop-- Bette saw a full-color snapshot of him holding hands with Lorraine Conner-Smythe in the restaurant attached to the Mission Bell Marriott Hotel. Lorraine did consulting work with Bob's company, so the two of them had many chances to sniff each other out. In that nanosecond Bette knew her marriage with Bob had gone from just fine to over. Pop .  If Bette were to count all the times she had such visions--from when she was a little girl--and how those visions came to pass, she could have regaled a dinner party for a full evening with examples: the scholarship she would win four years after learning of its existence, the dorm room she would have in Iowa City, the man she would sleep with for the first time (not Bob Monk), the wedding dress she would wear at the altar (opposite Bob Monk), the view of the Chicago River she would enjoy once the job interview with the Sun-Times went her way, the phone call she saw coming the night her parents were hit by a drunk driver. She knew the sexes of her children the moment she saw the test results over the sink in her bathroom. The list went on and on and on. Not that she made a big deal out of any of the visions, claiming no special clairvoyance or an all-seeing mentalism. Bette thought most people had the same kind of visions, they just didn't realize it. And not all of her visions came to pass. She once saw herself being a contestant on Jeopardy! but that never happened. Still, her accuracy ratio was awfully impressive. Bob wanted to marry Lorraine as soon as their affair was discovered, so he paid for the privilege, assuring Bette's financial security until the kids were off to college and the child support ceased. Buying the house on Greene Street required hoop jumping with the bank, glowing inspections, and a six-month escrow, but the deed was signed. The lawn, that sycamore, the front porch, all those bedrooms, and the minioffice attached to the garage made for a Promised Land, especially after the narrow, split-level condo in which she had first parked her money and where the four of them lived like kittens in a box, all on top of each other. Now they had a backyard, so deep and wide! With a pomegranate tree! Bette saw her kids-- pop-- in T-shirts covered in purple dribble spots come October! Greene Street was isolated, with almost no traffic except the residents, making it safe for street play. On August 1 the kids begged the movers to unload their bikes and Eddie's Big Wheel before anything else so they could cruise their new turf. The moving crew was a bunch of young Mexican guys who had kids of their own, so they were happy to oblige and to watch the children play, carefree, as they unpacked and carried a household's worth of stuff. Bette spent the morning testing her high school Spanish, sending boxes to the right rooms, and having furniture placed according to her intuition--the sofa facing the window, bookshelves bordering the fireplace. Around 11:00 a.m., Dale came running in with a pair of chubby boys, maybe ten years old, probably twins, both with the same bashful look and matching dimples. "Mom! This is Keyshawn and Trennelle. They live four houses over." "Keyshawn. Trennelle," Bette said. "Howdy do?" "They said I could have lunch with them." Bette eyed the boys. "Is that true?" "Yes, ma'am," said either Keyshawn or Trennelle. "Did you just call me ma'am ?" "Yes, ma'am." "You, Keyshawn, have good manners. Or are you Tren-nelle?" The boys pointed to themselves, saying their names. Since they dressed differently, not like twins in some movie, Bette would always know who was who. Plus, Keyshawn had his hair in perfectly tied cornrows while Trennelle's head was shaved nearly clean. "What's on the menu?" Bette asked. "Today we have franks and beans, ma'am." "Who is making this lunch, exactly?" "Our Gramma Alice," Trennelle told her. "Our mother works at AmCoFederal Bank. Our father works for Coca- Cola, but we're not allowed to drink Coca- Cola. Only on Sun-day. Our Gramma Diane lives in Memphis. We don't have granddads. Our mother will come to your house when she comes home and will bring you flowers from our garden to say 'welcome wagon.' Our father will come by, too, with some Coca- Cola, if it's allowed, or Fanta, if you prefer. We didn't ask Gramma Alice if there is going to be enough food for Eddie and Sharri, so they can't come." "Mom! Yes? No?" Dale was just about to burst. "Have something green with the franks and beans and I'm thinking yes." "Would apples be good with you, ma'am? For something green? We have green apples." "Apples would do the trick, Trennelle." The three kids lit out of the house, off the porch, down the steps, under the low-hanging limbs of the sycamore, and across the lawn. Bette followed just far enough to watch them rush through a front door four houses away. Then she hollered for Eddie and Sharri to park their bikes on the front lawn and come in for the sandwiches she would make as soon as she found the fixings. Excerpted from Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Three Exhausting Weeksp. 3
Christmas Eve 1953p. 35
A Junket in The City of Lightp. 61
Our Town Today With Hank Fiset-an Elephant in The Pressroomp. 85
Welcome to Marsp. 91
A Month on Greene Streetp. 113
Alan Bean Plus Fourp. 145
Our Town Today With Hank Fiset-at Loose in The Big Applep. 157
Who'S Who?p. 163
A Special Weekendp. 187
These Are The Meditations of My Heartp. 225
Our Town Today With Hank Fiset-Back From Back in Timep. 243
The Past is Important to Usp. 249
Stay With Usp. 287
Go See Costasp. 345
Our Town Today With Hank Fiset-Your Evangelista, Esperanzap. 379
Steve Wong is Perfectp. 385
Acknowledgmentsp. 405