Short but Sweet: Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks

Originally posted December 2017

Tom “Yes He Can Write Too” Hanks’ collection, “Uncommon Type: Some Stories” serves both those scenarios, offering up a few short but sweet tales intertwined with a few longer-running chapters that leave you hoping for a sequel.

With such a variety in the storytelling, the result is a different favorite for everyone that reads the collection. I’m not sure which I enjoyed more — one man’s continuous trips back in time to visit the woman of his dreams, another woman’s obsession with a $5 typewriter or a quartet of friends led through life adventures by what can only be described as the alpha-est alpha female that has ever lived. Regardless, it’s clear each story only comes to life because of the thoughtful character development that is established early and often. And that right there is a skill not to be easily dismissed.

It’s almost a sweet curse, now that I’m left to wonder what of the life my time traveler had before he began his trips to the World’s Fair. Or what comes after Christmas morning with Virgil Beuell and his family. Or if Rory Thorpe ever gets another role. But, like Tom Perrotta’s short story collection, Nine Inches, one of the best parts of a short story isn’t what’s on the page but what happens in your brain after you put the book down. Readers are allowed to take the next step on their own, breathing more like into individual characters than a single author ever can.

Take the ride — it’s well worth picking this one up.

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