Uncommon Type: Some Stories

Uncommon Type: Some Stories

by Tom Hanks


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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!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101946152
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/17/2017
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 212,287
Product dimensions: 5.39(w) x 8.14(h) x 1.09(d)

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.

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.

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

Customer Reviews

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Uncommon Type: Some Stories 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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 More than 1 year ago
Tom Hanks tells lovely tales and I enjoyed every minute!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love short stories. Tom Hanks writes good short stories . He develops plot and characters quickly and ends stories successfully. I loved the two threads of antique typewriters and Mdash.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful! Each story was completely different, yet drew me in. I loved how they each had some reference to typewriters, some centered around them while others merely moved them aside in a closet. Nice common thread.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book! I have read it twice. It is very well written. I definitely would recomend it to everyone. Tom Hanks tells interesting, funny, and exciting stories. I was blown away by his writing abilities. The man can do it all!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tom Hanks is my favorite actor. He is now on my list of favorite novelists.
cloggiedownunder More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous 9 days ago
Great story teller. Plants you right in each story!
Anonymous 7 months ago
runnergirl83 More than 1 year ago
I picked this book up because it was by Tom Hanks which made me curious. Who doesn't love Tom Hanks. Actually, I do know someone who said she didn't like Tom Hanks which made me a little suspicious of her. No, not really. Honestly, I was disappointed. This book wasn't terrible, it was just, well, mediocre and not memorable. There were a few stories I did enjoy, but most of the book was a bit of a snooze-fest. I'll admit the common theme of a typewriter was a neat idea. Tom Hanks might be an amazing actor, I just didn't care for his book. Who knows, he might write another one and that one might be better.
sandrabrazier More than 1 year ago
I listened to the audio version of this book, because Tom Hanks narrates it. His narration was the best part. This is a collection of seventeen light short stories. Some do not really go anywhere. Some have endings leave the reader wanting and expecting more. But just the stories, themselves, and his narration, are enjoyable, nonetheless. I really enjoyed the story that takes place in the future. It is about time travel, and an agency that allows its customers to visit the past on a specific day for 22 hours. Each story is very different, so there is a wide variety to please everyone.
FrancescaFB More than 1 year ago
smg5775 More than 1 year ago
A series of short stories with a common thread running through them. Watch some of them carefully or you will miss the thread. I enjoyed all the stories but my favorites were the three that had Anna, MDash, Steven Wong, and the narrator in them. I liked these characters and their friendship. My other favorites where with Hank Fiset. He is a reporter who takes on a variety of topics, such as coffee shops, places from his past, New York, and the press room. I liked his style. Tom Hanks is a clever writer. I will read him again, especially if it has the narrator and company in it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Got to know Tom s bit better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mr. Hank's dry and clever humor comes out in each and every story. Thanks for helping make my vacation so enjoyable.
stickerooniDM More than 1 year ago
I tend to be wary of books, particularly fiction, by people who have achieved fame in some other form. I am particularly wary of books by actors - I've read too many that seems to have been sold on the actor's name and not the quality of the work. And I really didn't want this one to be bad because, well, it's Tom Hanks and I like Tom Hanks! But I also really wanted to read this because, well, it's Tom Hanks! Fortunately, this shows that Tom Hanks CAN write and deserves to be published. This is a collection of short stories (and I've written before how much I enjoy the short story form). The thinking in the publishing industry, however, is that short stories don't sell books. That may be true, but celebrities do! Hanks' work here is a throwback to the days when all writers wrote either in long-hand or on a typewriter. The stories themselves have a sense of long ago, as if Hanks is recalling days when he first really enjoyed reading. The settings, the style, even the tone of the stories remind me of literature of the 1970's. One of my favorites here was "Alan Bean Plus Four." This features a group of friends - Anna, Steve, MDash, and a narrator who is hard not to picture as Tom Hanks - that remind me so much of my own group of friends from this period ... though we did not go into space in our own, homemade rocket ship (but if we had, we just might have named it the Alan Bean). "Who's Who" was another favorite. Here it is 1978 and a young actress who was having a successful-if-not-quite-satisfying career in Arizona has moved to the Big Apple to make it big. But she's still sleeping on the couch of a friend and pushing the limits of the kind offer to stay until she gets settled. But finding work, finding affordable housing ... it's a lot harder than Sue Gliebe anticipated. One can't help feeling as though Hanks writes from experience here, possibly remembering his early days as an actor. "These Are the Meditations of My Heart" might be the very best of these stories, in which a young lady buys a typewriter. But the typewriter repair man/dealer makes her promise that she will use the machine... "Well, not to be impolite," she said, "but duh!" "Make the machine a part of your life. A part of your day. Do not use it a few times, then need room on the table and close it back up into its case to sit on a shelf in the back of a closet. Do that and you may never write with it again." Once again we get the impression that this is personal - a memory that Hanks has. If it is, Hanks does a masterful job recalling the memory and sharing it. If not, it's even more impressive. Most short story collections show a range of work - some that really reach a reader and some that just don't click. That holds true here, but even at his worst, Tom Hanks is a really fine writer. At his best, you will be drawn in and left wanting to read more. Looking for a good book? You'll want to read Uncommon Type because it's a collection of short stories by the actor Tom Hanks, but you'll enjoy them because Tom Hanks the writer is very, very good. I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
RJGM More than 1 year ago
I was going to give this one four stars because, you know, short stories (which are always a mix between GREAT and OKAY I GUESS), but the audio of the last story absolutely deserves its own star. As wonderful as Tom Hanks is -- and he is the wonderfulest -- he's not an audiobook narrator, so some of the pacing/cadence was a little odd. The last story, Stay With Us, is performed by a full cast with music and sound effects and everything, so it was by far my favorite story. This is the first time I've read a short story collection that "recycled" (for lack of a better word) the same characters in multiple stories, and I found myself confused at first but ultimately enjoying hearing about Anna and Steve Wong and MDash multiple times. (Steve Is Perfect gave me SO MUCH ANXIETY! But in a this-book-is-amazing way.) The reporter annoyed me a little bit in his recurring stories, but I still liked how he sort of kept the book flowing. I can already tell that this is going to be one of those recommend-to-everyone books... I had the audiobook on hold for weeks at my library, but it was so worth the wait. Also: I want my typewriter back. :(
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
HeyerF4n More than 1 year ago
I was disappointed because I really wanted to like this book, as Tom is one of my favourite actors and I was excited about having the opportunity to review it. What I got was a collection of short stories, with an old fashioned feel about them. Unfortunately they didn’t hold my interest and I struggled to finish the book. I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley. I was not compensated for my review, and I was not required to write a positive review. The opinion expressed here is my own.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great actor, but this book was not for me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago