Review: Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks

Posted on Sep 27 2018 - 10:20pm by Claire Herbaux

Short stories and special, and often underappreciated. Find an author who does them well, and you will marvel at one for days or weeks.

I have a soft spot for short stories. In a world were news are ingested in 140 characters and we constantly use two screens, not being able to focus on a 1-hour show without checking our phones, reading seems like an exception: A way to leave the real world behind and immerse ourselves in a a parallel world. It is where we feel suddenly feel empathy again, and where we connect more with characters than we do in our ‘real life’ chats full of acronyms and typos. We can spend days and weeks with a character, depending on our reading speed, and feel the impact their story has on us.

How fantastic is it when an author can craft a story so well, that we go through those emotions in a mere few minutes? With short stories, we need to connect with the character, understand the situation, be hooked, and finally get the satisfying (or unsatisfying) end, all within a few pages. Those authors are masters of their craft and short stories are not an art to mess with.

This is why it was so disappointing for me. Sadly, it is true that some actors should stick to what they are good at.

Tom Hanks book of short stories seemed unusual enough that I thought he may have something to say, but he didn’t.

The stories in Uncommon type were not gripping or enticing. Some had recurring characters, others were standalone. Many were too long, and few were interesting. Except for the character of Hank Fiset, the newspaper reporter, none of them felt real.

Short stories are all about the endings and the only one true to the form was Welcome to Mars, which had emotion and characters, and a beautifully simple ending.

But the others were a struggle, long and too many of them, and seems an amalgamation of thoughts which had been stirring in Hanks’ head for a while. While some ideas, some of the relationships and some of the topics could be interesting, they weren’t ready; they were ramblings instead of  thought through storylines cut down to their essential parts.

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