Uncommon Type : Some Stories
by Hanks, Tom; Twomey, Kevin (PHT)






A collection of seventeen short stories includes three tales featuring a small-town newspaper column called "Our Town Today with Hank Fiset."





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.





As an actor, Tom Hanks has an understated performance style; the hard work seems to get done under the surface, where we can't see it. All we see is the truth of the character. The same goes for the 17 short stories in this thoroughly engaging book, Hanks' fiction debut. Here are stories about friends who become lovers and then decide that wasn't a good idea; about old war buddies whose Christmas Eve conversation sparks some powerful memories; about a movie star enduring a press junket; about a billionaire and his assistant on the trail of acquisitions who find in America's heartland a humanity very different from their glass-tower world. The stories are brief and sometimes seem abbreviated, but they possess a real feel for character and a slice-of-life realism that combine to deliver considerable depth beneath the surface. A surprising and satisfying book from a first-time fiction writer.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Hanks is both much loved and often criticized as an actor; his writing, however, may well cross that divide with its undeniable craft and plainspoken insight. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.





Seventeen wide-ranging and whimsical stories—with a typewriter tucked into each one.Only one of the stories in Hanks' debut features an actor: it's a sharp satire with priceless insider details about a handsome dope on a press junket in Europe. The other 16 span a surprisingly wide spectrum. There's a recently divorced mom who's desperate to avoid the new neighbor who might be hitting on her; a billionaire inventor who's become addicted to taking time-travel vacations; a World War II veteran whose Christmas Eve 1953 is disturbed by memories of Christmas Eve 1944; a young man who celebrates his 19th birthday by going surfing with his dad; a Bulgarian immigrant literally just off the boat, spending his first few days as a New Yorker. Three stories are editions of a small-town newspaper column called "Our Town Today with Hank Fiset." Three others feature a group of pals named MDash, Anna, Steve Wong, and an unnamed first-person narrator. In one story, the friends go bowlin g; in another, they go to the moon; in the third, the narrator and Anna try dating for three weeks only to find that "being Anna's boyfriend was like training to be a Navy SEAL while working full-time in an Amazon fulfillment center in the Oklahoma Panhandle in tornado season." Or as Steve Wong puts it, "We are like a TV show with diversity casting. African guy, him. Asian guy, me. Mongrel Caucasoid, you. Strong, determined woman, Anna, who would never let a man define her. You and her pairing off is like a story line from season eleven when the network is trying to keep us on the air." There's a typewriter in every tale, be it IBM Selectric, Royal, Underwood, Hermes 2000, or some other model. Hanks can write the hell out of typing, and his dialogue is excellent, too. Has he read William Saroyan? He should. While these stories have the all-American sweetness, humor, and heart we associate with his screen roles, Hanks writes like a writer, not a movie star. Copyright Kirkus 2017 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.





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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