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Uncommon Type: Some Stories

by Tom Hanks

7 Reviews

Uncommon Type: Some Stories
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Overview

Overview

Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks

A collection of seventeen wonderful short stories showing that two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks is as talented a writer as he is an actor.

A gentle Eastern European immigrant arrives in New York City after his family and his life have been torn apart by his country's civil war. A man who loves to bowl rolls a perfect game--and then another and then another and then many more in a row until he winds up ESPN's newest celebrity, and he must decide if the combination of perfection and celebrity has ruined the thing he loves. An eccentric billionaire and his faithful executive assistant venture into America looking for acquisitions and discover a down and out motel, romance, and a bit of real life. These are just some of the tales Tom Hanks tells in this first collection of his short stories. They are surprising, intelligent, heartwarming, and, for the millions and millions of Tom Hanks fans, an absolute must-have!

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Product Details
ISBN-13:
9781101946152
9781101946152
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
10/17/2017
Pages:
416
416
Sales rank:
70
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)
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About the Author

About the Author

TOM HANKS has been an actor, screenwriter, director and, through Playtone, a producer.  His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Vanity Fair, and The New Yorker.  This is his first collection of fiction.
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Read an Excerpt

Read an Excerpt

A Month on Greene Street

The first of August is usually only so notable—the start of the eighth month in the middle of summer on what might or might not be the hottest day ever. But this year, yowza, a lot was going on that day.

Little Sharri Monk was sure to lose another tooth, a partial lunar eclipse was due around 9:15 p.m., and Bette Monk (mother of Sharri; her older sister, Dale; and her younger brother, Eddie) was moving them all into a three-bedroom house on Greene Street. The home so picturesque she knew she would live there the moment she saw the real estate listing. Bette had a vision—pop—of herself and the kids in the kitchen for a busy breakfast. She was manning the stove-top griddle, turning pancakes, the kids in school clothes finishing their homework and fighting over the last of the orange juice. Her mental image was so focused, so particular, there was no question the house on Greene Street—oh, that massive sycamore tree in the front yard—would be hers. Theirs.

Bette had visions—was there any other way to put it? Not every day and never with any spiritual glow, but she would sense a flash, she’d see a pop, like a photo of a vacation taken long ago that held complete memories of all that happened before and all that came after. When her husband, Bob Monk, had come home from work one day—pop—Bette saw a full-color snapshot of him holding hands with Lorraine Conner-Smythe in the restaurant attached to the Mission Bell Marriott Hotel. Lorraine did consulting work with Bob’s company, so the two of them had many chances to sniff each other out. In that nanosecond Bette knew her marriage with Bob had gone from just fine to over. Pop. 

If Bette were to count all the times she had such visions—from when she was a little girl—and how those visions came to pass, she could have regaled a dinner party for a full evening with examples: the scholarship she would win four years after learning of its existence, the dorm room she would have in Iowa City, the man she would sleep with for the first time (not Bob Monk), the wedding dress she would wear at the altar (opposite Bob Monk), the view of the Chicago River she would enjoy once the job interview with the Sun-Times went her way, the phone call she saw coming the night her parents were hit by a drunk driver. She knew the sexes of her children the moment she saw the test results over the sink in her bathroom. The list went on and on and on. Not that she made a big deal out of any of the visions, claiming no special clairvoyance or an all-seeing mentalism. Bette thought most people had the same kind of visions, they just didn’t realize it. And not all of her visions came to pass. She once saw herself being a contestant on Jeopardy! but that never happened. Still, her accuracy ratio was awfully impressive.

Bob wanted to marry Lorraine as soon as their affair was discovered, so he paid for the privilege, assuring Bette’s financial security until the kids were off to college and the child support ceased. Buying the house on Greene Street required hoop jumping with the bank, glowing inspections, and a six-month escrow, but the deed was signed. The lawn, that sycamore, the front porch, all those bedrooms, and the minioffice attached to the garage made for a Promised Land, especially after the narrow, split-level condo in which she had first parked her money and where the four of them lived like kittens in a box, all on top of each other. Now they had a backyard, so deep and wide! With a pomegranate tree! Bette saw her kids—pop—in T-shirts covered in purple dribble spots come October!

Greene Street was isolated, with almost no traffic except the residents, making it safe for street play. On August 1 the kids begged the movers to unload their bikes and Eddie’s Big Wheel before anything else so they could cruise their new turf. The moving crew was a bunch of young Mexican guys who had kids of their own, so they were happy to oblige and to watch the children play, carefree, as they unpacked and carried a household’s worth of stuff.

Bette spent the morning testing her high school Spanish, sending boxes to the right rooms, and having furniture placed according to her intuition—the sofa facing the window, bookshelves bordering the fireplace. Around 11:00 a.m., Dale came running in with a pair of chubby boys, maybe ten years old, probably twins, both with the same bashful look and matching dimples. “Mom! This is Keyshawn and Trennelle. They live four houses over.” “Keyshawn. Trennelle,” Bette said. “Howdy do?” “They said I could have lunch with them.” Bette eyed the boys. “Is that true?” “Yes, ma’am,” said either Keyshawn or Trennelle. “Did you just call me ma’am?” “Yes, ma’am.” “You, Keyshawn, have good manners. Or are you Tren-nelle?” The boys pointed to themselves, saying their names. Since they dressed differently, not like twins in some movie, Bette would always know who was who. Plus, Keyshawn had his hair in perfectly tied cornrows while Trennelle’s head was shaved nearly clean. “What’s on the menu?” Bette asked. “Today we have franks and beans, ma’am.” “Who is making this lunch, exactly?” “Our Gramma Alice,” Trennelle told her. “Our mother works at AmCoFederal Bank. Our father works for Coca- Cola, but we’re not allowed to drink Coca- Cola. Only on Sun-day. Our Gramma Diane lives in Memphis. We don’t have granddads. Our mother will come to your house when she comes home and will bring you flowers from our garden to say ‘welcome wagon.’ Our father will come by, too, with some Coca- Cola, if it’s allowed, or Fanta, if you prefer. We didn’t ask Gramma Alice if there is going to be enough food for Eddie and Sharri, so they can’t come.”

“Mom! Yes? No?” Dale was just about to burst.

“Have something green with the franks and beans and I’m thinking yes.”

“Would apples be good with you, ma’am? For something green? We have green apples.”

“Apples would do the trick, Trennelle.”

The three kids lit out of the house, off the porch, down the steps, under the low-hanging limbs of the sycamore, and across the lawn. Bette followed just far enough to watch them rush through a front door four houses away. Then she hollered for Eddie and Sharri to park their bikes on the front lawn and come in for the sandwiches she would make as soon as she found the fixings.

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Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Three Exhausting Weeks 3

Christmas Eve 1953 35

A Junket in The City of Light 61

Our Town Today With Hank Fiset-an Elephant in The Pressroom 85

Welcome to Mars 91

A Month on Greene Street 113

Alan Bean Plus Four 145

Our Town Today With Hank Fiset-at Loose in The Big Apple 157

Who'S Who? 163

A Special Weekend 187

These Are The Meditations of My Heart 225

Our Town Today With Hank Fiset-Back From Back in Time 243

The Past is Important to Us 249

Stay With Us 287

Go See Costas 345

Our Town Today With Hank Fiset-Your Evangelista, Esperanza 379

Steve Wong is Perfect 385

Acknowledgments 405

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Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

08/21/2017
Oscar-winner Hanks’s debut collection is a wide-ranging affair of 17 stories threaded together by the recurring image of typewriters—some stories, like the intriguing “These Are the Meditations of My Heart,” build entire narratives around the machines, while others mention them in passing. In “Alan Bean Plus Four,” one of the collection’s best entries, four friends decide to build a backyard rocket and orbit the moon. These same characters star in two more stories, the enjoyable bowling yarn “Steve Wong Is Perfect,” and the less noteworthy “Three Exhausting Weeks,” which uses standard romantic comedy tropes in recollecting a wacky and doomed relationship. Hanks’s stories sometimes lead to pat, happy endings, but not always—“Christmas Eve 1953” develops a simple holiday story into a rumination on war. Similarly, “The Past Is Important to Us” employs a sharp, unexpected conclusion to elevate a story of time travel and romance at the 1939 World’s Fair. Hanks’s narrators speak with similar verbal tics—multiple narrators say “Noo Yawk,” for example—but the stories they tell generally charm. The only true misfires come when Hanks breaks away from traditional structure: the story-as-screenplay “Stay With Us” drags, and faux newspaper columns by man of the people Hank Fiset start clever but turn grating. 250,000-copy announced first printing. (Oct.)

Publishers Weekly
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Customer Reviews (7)
- Anonymous
October 30, 2017
Uncommon Type: Some Stories is the first print book by American ac ...
Uncommon Type: Some Stories is the first print book by American actor, filmmaker and author, Tom Hanks. This is a collection of seventeen quite diverse stories. They vary not only in subject matter, but also format. Many are straight narrative, but there’s also a screen play and a series of newspaper columns from the Tri-Cities Daily News/Herald entitled Our Town Today with Hank Fiset. Hank muses on modern news consumption and production compared with that of fifty years ago; he shares his opinion of New York City; he reminisces on significant moments in his life as punctuated by a typewriter bell; he describes a return to analog by a typewriting evangelista. Typewriters feature heavily: there’s a typewriter on the cover; there’s an image of a different model of typewriter at the beginning of each chapter; sometimes, a typewriter is an integral part of the story, sometimes it has a minor role, and sometimes it just gets an incidental mention. Many of the characters are appealing and a particular quartet who reappear twice after their initial tale might be well suited to have their own novel (in fact, one of their stories was published in a separate volume in 2014). The stories are an ideal length for dipping into, but also interesting and different enough to read without pause. Topics are many and mixed: refugees in the present day (or near future) and from a half a century ago; travel by car and plane as well as time travel, space travel and travel down memory lane; ten pin bowling; surfing; motel accommodation; moving house; the public relations junket; making it on the stage; the heavy toll of wartime service. Hanks gives the reader laughter and romance, loyal friends, wise words and plots that aren’t entirely predictable. It’s easy to imagine Hanks himself as the narrator in many of these tales: his voice is really there, even in the print version. This is an outstanding debut, and if Hanks ever tires of Hollywood, he can certainly direct his energies to the keyboard (whether a typewriter or electronic), as more tales of this ilk would definitely be welcome. Very enjoyable.
- cloggiedownunder
December 3, 2017
Loved it!
Tom Hanks is amazing. I had a moderate expectation for this book and his writing proved to be very entertaining and went beyond that expectation and in fact this is a great book. Shame on me for even thinking about doubting his ability. Enjoy!
- Anonymous
October 25, 2017
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