Uncommon Type is a collection of short stories by Tom Hanks. Yes, that Tom Hanks, actor, director, producer, screenwriter and all-round good guy. As it turns out he can write short stories, too.
Each story in this collection features a typewriter. I was reliably informed by Honey-Bunny in a conversation about what we were each reading, that Tom Hanks collects typewriters and that the photographs at the beginning of each story were of his typewriters.
The first story in the collection, Three Exhausting Weeks, tells of an affair between two long-time friends. The romance only lasted three weeks because by the end of that time, Anna had worn the narrator out with scuba diving lessons, long distance runs, yoga and worse. Happily, the narrator and Anna’s friendship remained intact after they called it quits.
Christmas Eve, 1953 is the story of a World War Two veteran who has a lovely wife, three great kids and a thriving business. Every Christmas he phones up an old war buddy for a catch-up and to urge his buddy to come for a visit, knowing it will never happen. The narrator is lucky in many ways, despite the loss of an eye and a leg, and his terrible, terrible memories of the war.
A Junket in the City of Light tells of a whirlwind press tour for an upcoming movie taken by a beefcake actor who only exists to support the leading lady, who is the most famous and desirable woman in the world. This story would make a would-be actor think twice about their career if they weren’t already aware of how superficial their work might be.
Welcome to Mars offers a sad look at family life. A young man went surfing at Mars Beach with his father early in the morning of his nineteenth birthday, only to be shocked by learning his father was having an affair.
A Month on Greene Street was one of my favourite stories in the collection. It tells of a divorced mother of three moving into what might be the perfect street, if it weren’t for the overly friendly, divorced man living next door.
I also enjoyed Who’s Who? which tells the story of a would-be actor who had moved from Hicksville to New York and couldn’t find anywhere to live or get a foot in the door in the showbiz industry. Luckily, her fairy godmother found her before things got too dire.
A Special Weekend was the sad story of a boy spending a weekend with his mother after his parents divorced.
The Past is Important to Us told the story of an extremely rich man who happily spent six million dollars a pop to go back in time to a particular day in 1939 where he visited the World Fair in New York. His repeat visits were inspired by a pretty young woman who he met there.
Several of the stories featured the same characters, although they each told a different story and generated different emotions. While I don’t think any of the stories from Uncommon Type will live on in my mind forever, I certainly enjoyed them while I was reading them.