Top positive review
Tom Hanks types.
8 November 2017
Tom Hanks collects typewriters. Here, in his fiction debut, he uses them as a linking thread in his short stories; occasionally, the device feels a little shoe-horned in but most of the time it works very well. Hanks can probably afford a castle to house his vast collection of typewriters yet to me it’s clear that the financial rewards of his success have not lifted his feet from the ground by even an inch. Many of the stories are about ordinary people in ordinary situations doing ordinary everyday things. And even in the more ‘out there’ stories, the emotions of his characters are recognisably real. Hanks’s genuine warmth, empathy and down-to-earth decency shine through – these surely are the very qualities that contribute so much to his acting ability.
At first, it’s hard to shake off Hanks’s distinctive voice. But it’s not long before the author’s grasp of character takes over and one finds oneself immersed, tuning out Tom in favour of the voice in the story: A divorcee who moves to a quiet neighbourhood and fears she will be pestered by the guy next door. The ten-year old boy who goes to visit his estranged mother for a special birthday treat. The columnist of a local paper who feels compelled to big up his small town (one gets the feeling that in another life, Hanks might have enjoyed being a journo). There are sci-fi stories too, like a time-travel take on Cinder(f)ella which is very well-told even though the outcome is predictable.
In fact, Hanks doesn’t once go for the smartypants, sting-in-the-tale short story payoff and, in my view, this is A Good Thing. The last story ‘Steve Wong Is Perfect’ was my favourite: a strike! All in all, a convincing and enjoyable debut – if a little vanilla. Give it a shot.