Pick of the day: Tom Hanks - Uncommon Type.
Thanks to Helen O’Neil, an ex-journalist and friend of mine, for submitting the following review:
Uncommon Type, at 403 pages, is quite long for a short story collection. There are 17 stories, three featuring the same characters and all mention a typewriter. Hanks collects them.
That said, I read this in two sittings but gave up on one story, Stay With Us, which seems to be written like a movie script. It was too annoying to read all the instructions: music, fade in, ext, close on, subtitles.
Four stories came under the heading of Our Town Today with Hank Fiset, a columnist on the Tri-Cities Daily News/Herald, which I loved. I've worked with more than a few Hank Fisets.
His first column is called An Elephant in the Pressroom where he (Hank not Hanks) is at odds with the digital age. He recalls Al Simmons at the Old Associated Press man who "took the choppy prose and schoolkid syntax from my reporter's notebook and turned those scribbles into bona fide news copy".
I remember that too.
"Al's typewriter was a Continental - a beast nearly the size of an easy chair - bolted to his desk, not because anyone would try to steal the thing. You'd have been foolish to have tried to lift it. Al's desk was a small, narrow alter of editing. He would bang out his version of my copy - leaner, crisper, better, dang it - then flip up the typewriter on hinges, and on the cleared space go at his own stuff with a blue pencil."
And that as well.
Then, These are the Meditations of my Heart is a story of a woman who buys a typewriter at a church sale. The man in the office equipment repair shop says it's just a toy and not worth fixing. He sells her a Swiss Hermes 2000, "the Mercedes-Benz of typewriters".
She's planning on using it for to do lists, she could write to her mum, as well as poison pen letters to her ex."Hey Knothead, you made a big fucking mistake!" And meditations of her heart, of course.
There are many more I could tell you about, but I have to take the dog for a walk.
Anyway, I would recommend Uncommon Type. The stories are charming, some nostalgic, mildly humorous. Not brilliant, but the newspaper stuff I liked. And everyone loves Tom Hanks.
One of his passions is obviously.collecting typewriters. And tomorrow I'm going round the charity shops looking for one. An Olivetti with black keys with metal rims, weighing a ton....just like the one I used to have.
Maybe then I might write something too.