A few months ago, my husband and I took a trip to Portland, OR. It was a book lover’s/coffee lover’s/food lover’s/nature lover’s dream come true! We stayed in a little Air B & B apartment with a wonderful couple who filled us in on all the must-see things in Portland…one of which was going to Powell’s Book Store.
I had heard of Powell’s before…it was described as “a big Barnes & Nobel”…which is easy to imagine. But “big” isn’t really a big enough word for how large this bookstore is…for a bibliophile, it’s near impossible to spend less than an hour in that store. The shelves are stacked up to the ceiling with books…and the store itself is divided into several rooms, each filled – I mean FILLED – with books, gifts, and more. I was in trouble.
Since we flew into Portland with just one suitcase (#pros), I didn’t want to leave with a butt-ton of books that would weigh our luggage down…so I told myself I would buy one book. Just one. One lonely, little book from the City of Books. And I stuck to it!
My one and only purchase at Powell’s Bookstore was a signed copy of Uncommon Type, a collection of short stories by the adorable Tom Hanks. The book had just come out, so I hadn’t heard much about it…but how could you go wrong with Tom Hanks?
Much like Tom himself, these stories didn’t possess any flair or flash…they didn’t promise to be anything other than what they were – small glimpses into the lives of American people. What ties all these stories together is the appearance of a typewriter – sometimes the main character in the story, other times just an object on a desk.
I hate to say that I struggled a bit through some of these stories…not in a bad way, just in a nothing-really-exciting-is-happening-and-I’m-getting-a-little-bored kind of way. Don’t get me wrong, I really did enjoy this book and I love Tom Hanks as an actor and as a person, but I guess this book just didn’t live up to the hype I selfishly created for it.
Three stories in this collection really stood out to me above the others. One, titled “The Past is Important to Us”, tells the story of a man who travels back in time to the 1939 World’s Fair, drawn by a young woman in a green dress (slightly similar, yet more disturbing, than the film, Somewhere in Time). Another titled “These are the Meditations of My Heart” talks about how a young girl copes with her breakup by finding a bit of solstice in an old vintage typewriter. Finally the third story, “Welcome to Mars” is about a boy discovering his father’s infidelity. I found it so honest and true that it might just be my favorite one in the collection.
Was this my favorite collection of short stories ever? No. It didn’t surprise me or shock me or leave me wondering about a hanging ending; however, it did entertain. The stories in Uncommon Type were true and honest, albeit normal. They were about everyday people doing everyday things. Some stories are better than others, some stories are funnier than others, but just like Toy Story, You’ve Got Mail, or Sleepless in Seattle, it will most likely leave you loving Tom Hanks all the more.
Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.