Review: Uncommon Type
Well, he’s done it folks: one of America’s national treasures wrote a book. That’s right; Tom Hanks can now add “author” to his esteemed resume. But is Uncommon Type, his collection of short stories, any good? If you go by what writer and commentator Roxane Gay says, it’s just so-so. In her Goodreads review, she writes that “The stories portray a pleasant, multiethnic world where everything has gone the way of Benetton ads . . . but the stories have no teeth. They aren’t memorable. They are aggressively competent but they aren’t necessarily good and they certainly aren’t bad. They just are.”
I can feel the burn all the way on the other side of the screen, but if you ask this book reviewer (me), I would say all of the above is exactly what makes this book so great.
Hanks is taking us back, not in a MAGA kind of way, but in an analog AF way. He’s reminding us that magic sparks can happen when we talk to each other. He’s asking us to remember that there’s a way to mend one’s heart that doesn’t involve incessant swiping.
Compounding on the old school tone, the common thread between the stories is about as old school as it gets: a typewriter. Hanks is a collector, and his knowledge of the machines (and, more importantly, his passion for them) shines through.
One of my favorite stories of the collection, entitled “These Are The Meditations Of My Heart,” features a young woman who buys a typewriter and imagines herself doing everything from typing out her grocery list to typing out the truths that she wants to hand down to her future children.
Sure, it’s sentimental, but don’t we need a little more of that?
One is left wondering whether Hanks’ acting resume is what allows him to stand so comfortably in so many people’s shoes – it comes off flawlessly regardless. If you can get on board with a book aimed at making you feel cozy and warm, a book that can deliver a brief respite from the daunting news of the day, then this book is for you. If you only like stories that have “teeth,” well then move on. I, for one, welcomed the break.
Background, Context & Reference
Connect With Karstee: Website
NPR: Tom Hanks Lays Out A Kinder, Gentler World In 'Uncommon Type' by Heller McAlpin
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