Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks

Reviewer: Barbara Scott Emmett (http://barbarascottemmett.blogspot.co.uk/ ) author of Delirium: The Rimbaud Delusion, The Man with the Horn, The Land Beyond Goodbye, and Don’t Look Down.

What We Thought: I usually give a despairing sigh when celebs bring books out. Just a way of extracting more cash from the fans, I think. Not so here, I have to say. With Uncommon Type, a compilation of short stories, Tom Hanks proves he can actually string sentences together. And paragraphs. Indeed, whole slices of life spring from his pen, and very good they are, too. I was prepared to maybe read a few, skip a few, pick a few faults, but I found that as soon as I finished one I happily started on another. As far as faults go, there was one instance of head-hopping that caught my attention but didn't seem at all problematic.

Hanks gives us traditional tales alongside quirky futuristic fantasies, stories of the past as well as modern instances, comedy as well as serious topics, and he is never dull. As might be expected, there are many stories told from the point of view of boys, youths and men. There are, however, stories with female protagonists too, and though they may not pass the Bechdel Test, they are not solely a man’s-eye view.

The common theme is typewriters. Most stories include a reference to one. Sometimes the typewriters are integral to the story, sometimes they are simply there in the background. Despite the prevalence of elderly writing machines, these stories are diverse in style and structure. Most are good humoured and made me smile throughout and sometimes even laugh. Others have the emotional pull that leads the reader to contemplation.

I found myself warming to the writer as I read, for the sense of a very human and caring intelligence is always present. It is this sense of someone behind it all that gives the collection coherence, I think. Though the stories are varied in tone and characterisation, there is also a sense of them being part of a larger whole. I found them all entertaining and enjoyable.

I received an ebook from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

You’ll enjoy this if you like:
Stories about people who are essentially good, if prone to human frailty sometimes.

Avoid if you dislike: Lack of evil antagonists – apart from war and life itself.

Ideal accompaniments: A nice cup of tea and some ginger biscuits.

Genre: Short Stories

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