The answer is most decidedly YES! Because it was in large print, and because it peaked my curiosity as to how good (or bad) he was at writing, I checked out Tom Hank’s (Yes, that Tom Hanks) 2017 collection of short stories, Uncommon Type: Some Stories. I didn’t intend to read all the stories, but I was captivated, both by his “gimmick” of having a typewriter show up somewhere in each story, and as I read on, by his fine writing style. There was everything from Time Travel to farewell editorials from newspapermen. Something to please everyone. That was the amazing part of these stories: the versatility. Tom Hanks must have had fun helping put this book format together, and the stories themselves, every single one of them, were intriguing and “good reading.”
Some were long, some short. Some were humorous, others pensive and deep. All were clever, sometimes of O.Henry quality. I couldn’t pick a favorite if I were forced to. I liked them all. I knew Tom Hanks was a fine actor, and thus, it followed that he was a creative man, but this writing proves just how creative he is. One critic on the cover describes him as a “new voice in contemporary fiction.” I would have to agree, IF he has more than this collection of stories “in him.” I would love to see him attempt a novel or a play, or a memoir–then I would label him a contemporary voice in good fiction. Hanks certainly is a master of the short story.
Gaiman, a British citizen living in the US is perhaps best known for his graphic novel, The Sandman, or his huge fantasy novel, Everywheres. Both are captivating reads. In his introduction to “Cheap Seats,” he says this is not a collected works of his non-fiction, but that is precisely what it is. College commencement speeches, acceptance speeches for rewards, musings and thoughts presented to different academies join book reviews and introductions and other written pieces by the versatile Gaiman. I began with something I knew, the “Make Art” address to the University of Arts in Philadelphia, which went viral in 2012. It was as stirring as I remembered it when I showed it to my university students that year.
He points out that just as like doctors are approached with, “I have a pain on the left side of my right hip…” and teachers are approached with, “My child has been diagnosed with dyslexia, what should I be doing at home?” authors are constantly presented with, “Where do you get your ideas?” Sarcastic at first, Gaiman attempts to give an honest answer which is the following:
“I make them up.
Out of my head.”
The title essay comes from his experience of being invited to the Oscars and having to sit in the nosebleed section far away from the stage. He had been nominated for the animated film, Coraline, (He did not win, but how could he, competing against Up?) His accounting of that night makes good reading. His British sense of humor carries the day and keeps the reader turning pages, followed by pondering the depth of the point the author has just made. Gaiman has been called, “an inquisitive observer,” and this collection of 60 works of his non-fiction writings is worth the time for anyone who loves books, writers, and writing.