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Recently Read: Tom Hanks

Meticuloso5I started out liking Tom Hanks’ stories in his book titled Uncommon Type. His writing has an easy flow to it. If he enjoys writing, then it shows in his work. If he doesn’t, then he could quit and go back to acting.

His short stories (so far, I’m still reading) have a witty, humanity-conscious style that let’s you read through with little effort. His style is fairly accurate in its study of humans. Like most writers who write, Tom Hanks seems to be a people watcher. He has studied the human condition and reported it well. You’ll learn to see your fellow humans as if through the eyes of Hanks.

Where it fell apart for me, was when I noticed that the stories were going nowhere. I could skip whole sections and still get the same feeling from his writing. It’s writing for the sake of writing. (Like some ‘blogs.) When you read such stuff, it doesn’t really matter how much of it you read; you can miss a few lines, and not really lose the story line. The plot meanders.

In the first story, he manages to write about sex without using any words that start with the letter f, or going into unnecessary detail. A lesson that many beginning writers need to learn. (Of course, then he uses the infamous word that starts with the letter f in another way. So if you’re looking for stories without that word, this is not for you.)

I’d give Uncommon Type a fairly high rating on two points. First because you, like me, will probably pick up the book and think, “Tom Hanks wrote a book? Tom Hanks, the actor?” But then you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that he can write pretty well. Second, because he has a love of life that is optimistic. I choose optimism over pessimism any day of the week.

I read another book recently by an author whose name starts with b. She wrote an awful book about elephants that doesn’t need to be mentioned by name any more than it needs to be read by anyone, ever. I couldn’t even finish it, it was so putrid. Reading it was like drinking from a puddle that a thirsty dog would avoid. It was like discarded carrion. It was like the stench of an outhouse visited by polecats.

In contrast: Tom Hanks’ book Uncommon Type was like Heaven after that hellacious book about elephants.

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