Uncommon Type: Tom Hanks
Diverse, rich in their own special genre, characters that are unique unto themselves, some that are odd, others that are heartwarming and yet endearing to readers. The creative quality attached to the stories is an antique manual typewriter that if those who used them remember had to have a ribbon changes, no correct tape and all too often caused the writer to have to rework and retype their work. Each story has a message that is delivered and each reader will see something different in each story. Honest, raw in some cases and subjects that could have been ripped out of the headlines from the past and present we learn about immigrants as even today that want to find their way to freedom and escape persecution. My favorite story was Christmas Eve 1953 that centers around a WWII veteran who relates through his past experience during the war and in the present the importance of traditions related to Christmas, Santa and his son’s love of waiting for that man in red to come and eat the snacks left and more, we revisit his time during the war, the tragic endings to some many lives that he wishes he could have saved, the loss of friends, comrades and his own loss of his leg and part of his hand. The innermost scars left within his mind about losing his platoon buddy and then realizes that it’s not just about loses but sometimes about gains, the love of family, his wife, his job and his precious children reminding us at this time of the year to cherish those we love.
The story about the junket was interesting as we meet an actress that is revered and an actor that follows her around like a puppy dog thinking that his time on this shoot will give him freedom and a free vacation. Cassandra Rampart is the start and Irene Burton the marketing person and the schedule is included in this story so that anyone hoping to become a star will have some idea of what you are expected to do. Rory Thorpe was grateful for Irene Burton and being in a movie with Cassandra/aka/ Willa Sax plus the money was a serious perk. Questions in his mind were: What is it like working with Willa Sax? What is it like kissing Willa Sax and finally the last well you have to read that one for yourself on page 59 as he was being interviewed and then taken to the Media Center for more interviews.
Each character in this story is quite unique and different and their perspective on the shoot and the cities scene are quite different as the junket is canceled and he did not have a flight one but the ending let’s you know Rory’s journey in the City of Light has not ended. The final story is about a Bulgarian immigrant hoping to escape to American and bounty hunters after him. Does he succeed and will anyone help you will have to learn for yourself. It’s a powerful ending to this collection. I loved the story titled A Special Weekend where Kenny is picked up by this mother for a weekend with her which changes his perception about her and possibly his life with his father and stepmother. Greeting him like he’s a guest and having to try and entertain the child Kenny’s eyes are sort of wide open, learns that his mother is oogled by so many men and women they meet on their journey. Restaurants that he’s not quite used to and told to order off menus because that’s what she does and learning more about her rich life, her men friends and then going up in a plane for the first time and getting a chance to pilot it. But, the ending is abrupt and the final scene leaves readers wondering what’s real and what Kenny hoped was real. Who’s Who is a heartwarming story about Sue Gliebe who learns the harsh realities of hoping to break into theater and realizes that some things are not cut and dry as she travels through the streets on a cold and rainy day and bumps into an old friend and here’s where the story takes different turn. Bobby Roy was not only a smart man but her closest friend who she bumps into and takes her back to her place and has to convince her in order to become a start you might have to reinvent yourself, pump up your resume and then create a stage name that is unforgettable and would be on the tip of everyone’s tongue. Will she do it? Will she decide to be someone she will be proud to be and have her parents be proud of? Read the surprise ending and find out WHO’S WHO? A simple visit to a typewriter machine repair shop changes the outlook of a young woman who bought an old typewriter for five dollars and learns it’s unfixable. “These are the Meditations of My Heart,” is the title centered on this young girl whose heart was broken and wants to have an implement to write or type her thoughts but will she find one? A Swiss Hermes Typewriter is at the core of this story and the final outcome after dealing with the owner of Detroit Avenue Business Machines when she finally realizes that he machine is just a plain old unfixable typewriter and tat somehow she needs to get another one. Promising the owner if she gets the Swiss Hermes that she would fulfill her word and type find out when you read this different yet inspiring story. The Junket in the City of Lights when we meet Rory Thorpe the witless and brainless actor who thinks some of himself than he should and that the schedule he is on during the publicity trail although hard you wonder if it’s plausible. Stay With Us is hilarious as the author shares with us a story about a rich, overbearing man named FXR and his slave/secretary/ girl Friday named Ms. Mercury as he never leaves his lair of home until he decides to do that but in a strange and unusual way. Ordering her to give him memos, texts, schedules, coffee, lunch, and more you begin to wonder why she stays with him at all. Getting a cheap car that looks like it’s on its last leg they win up at a small motel on the highway as the Buick they are riding in chugs long and F.X. R smiles into the wind. Meet Phil and Bea the owners of this motel and realize how FXR gets them to create a room that fits what he wants, changes the décor and even adds more blink to the lack of bucks he wants to spend. Motel Olympus is the name of this motel and the place reminds one of them of a foster home that person spent time in. Bea and Phil are kind and yet you wonder why they are vacant and no one is staying there. Tommy Boyer arrives at the hotel and he loves to cook but this story has an unusual ending that will make you smile as dinner is served and cleaned up and light are out and everyone is blindfolded and what do you think they will see? Find out when you take your blindfolds off and see what happens when Bill and Bea live just to have say to people: STAY WITH US!
Stories that are out of the ordinary and characters each hoping to find acceptance, self-worth, hope, understanding and meaning in his/her lives as each one of these stories focuses on different male and female characters that bear similarities and yet differences and are what this reviewer loved about all of them is that they are all considered UNCOMMON TYPE! Referring to the mainstay of most of the stories the use of the typewriter with many different fonts and the importance of family love, humane relationships, true to life incidents when Kenny wonders where his mother is when leaving with his dad, a father cheating on his wife and his child witnessing it is sad and the funny story about going to the moon and the movie crew or dysfunctional group hoping to log for the future. Tom Hanks’ stories have heart, humor, empathy, discord, sadness, honesty and some are dispassionate but each one is different and each has its own message of love, friendship, trust, loyalty and hope.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine