Uncommon Type- Tom Hanks
I would start by saying, Tom Hanks is one of my favourites, and when I got to know that he has penned down a book, I was really looking forward to reading it. But, not everyone is ‘Jack of all trades’, are they?
Uncommon type is a collection of seventeen short stories, some having the typewriter play a characteristic part in them, highlighting the age when typewriters were used rigorously. The thing about short stories is if they are unable to convince the reader in that short frame it probably runs out the chance of being a good short story. Just like Lynn Abbey says, ‘For me, writing a short story is much, much harder than writing a novel.’ So, looks like Tom Hanks took a hard job in his hands experimenting his first with short stories.
With short stories, there are always favourites and the ones that do not impress you at all. I have a list of seven such stories which made reading the book a good experience. The book starts with this one and instantly makes the reader love Tom Hanks’ writing- Three Exhausting Weeks. It is a simpleton story of two friends getting together because they think they are in love and what unfolds later is a series of events which lead them to think otherwise. It is strewn with wit all over and the writing comes out as matured impressing the reader immediately. The second story, The Christmas Eve is a little family and war story which chokes you for a moment. Reading about the character of Virgil Beuell made me realise that it is only will power through which you can overcome life’s odd obstacles. And, somehow the only people who understand our pain are we ourselves, no matter what good friends we have. What Virgil lost in the war with his best friend who he called Bud, by his side didn’t matter to Bud after years too. It is an emotional moment when this realisation dawns on Virgil.
The others which make you full with a bit of emotions are Welcome to Mars and A Special weekend. It portrays the bond which children have or make with their parents, and how it feels when it is broken by a mistrust or when they have to say goodbye to the happy moments spent with them. While these awaken a bout of emotions, A month on the Greene street is a light and simple story with the message- Do not judge a book by its cover. With a happy ending and new friendships, it lightens the reading atmosphere and the sadness caused by Welcome to Mars. Moving on from emotions to some determination is Go See Costas. It demonstrates how Assan, transports himself from places and ends up in New York to experience a completely fast paced life. His confidence, will power and the zeal to survive after bearing so much doesn’t wither an ounce in this new city. With his sharp mind and dogmatic behaviour he finally ends up working for Costas. How? Read it to know it. J And lastly, Steve Wong is perfect. It is an enjoyable read, a story of four friends which reoccur from the first story, Three exhausting weeks. It lays emphasis on the fact that how when something is done without any love towards it you start feeling shallow and meaningless. If something that you loved doing becomes a business and play for someone else, it only creates a hollowness in your heart. Apart from these, I couldn’t connect much with others and felt they are missing out on something.
The writing though is matured and the flair continues until end. But, with short stories, the reader loses interest half way if they don’t see anything interesting coming forth, no matter how beautifully it is crafted. Many stories in the book suffered the same loss- reader’s interest. Tom Hanks’ acting convinces us of his talent and as fans, we love seeing him on the screen, but writing? Not so much I guess; may be his second ought to be a more convincing novella to satiate a reader’s thirst.