Hanks for the memories

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October 31, 2017 by Whispering Smith

Whispering Smith Column published in the Littlehampton Gazette October 19th 2017

For every novel or short story published there is a shed load that will never see the light of day and, for the most part, quite deservedly so. Others do warrant consideration but do not get it and the writers, the good, the bad and the ugly, fall by the wayside in the interminable scrabble for a publisher’s consideration. Watership Down nearly didn’t make it out of the rabbit hole, Ian Fleming was much shaken and stirred before getting into print and J.K. Rowling needed a little bit of magic. Although I have had a number of short stories published I also have a reject heap of some magnitude. So, understand my irritation whenever a ‘celebrity’ puts pen to paper and publishers fight over the rights of the often-lamentable result. Happily, irritation can be salved with the right balm and when I was presented with a review copy of Tom Hanks’ book of short stories, Uncommon Type, I filled my Mont Blanc with vitriol and blood and prepared to scratch. Oh, disappointment, it is very good. The short story format is not easy even though many are often stretched like a piece of well chewed gum into full length novels, that is not their purpose. Their purpose is to entertain, stimulate and give voice often to single line or thought and Hanks does just that. Meet the mismatched couples, the veterans of Bastogne or the young actor lost in a junket world of publicity, the surfers of Mars Beach and the old-time columnist Hank Lisit. Meet the Americans, the atmosphere is palpable, sincere and very entertaining. I intended to read a couple of stories a night and ended up ‘binging’ the whole thing. Meet the real Tom Hanks, the man with a passion for typewriters, each of these stories born on one. You will learn more about this movie star through his ‘fiction’ than you will from a hundred interviews. It was not written by a celebrity but by genuine writing talent. Read it and ‘brace for impact…’

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