Author of the week
Tom Hanks certainly has the right tools to launch a side career as a writer, said Maureen Dowd in The New York Times. Long before he got it in his head to try writing essays and short fiction, the Hollywood star began collecting manual typewriters. As a kid growing up in Northern California in the days before PCs, Hanks had such poor handwriting that he needed a way around it. “Typing was the one requirement my dad had for me, going to school,” he says. “He said, ‘Goddamn it, you’ll take a typewriting course!’” Hanks, now 61, grew to love the clattering machines themselves and now has a collection of about 180 of them. Typewriters are also the common denominator in his first short-story collection, Uncommon Type.
Hanks, who once got tutoring in writing from his friend Nora Ephron, knew that few people would be interested in 400 pages on typewriters, said Deborah Dundas in the Toronto Star. But the devices make at least cameo appearances in all 17 stories. A Hermes 2000 has a starring role in “These Are the Meditations of My Heart,” about a woman who types out her thoughts after a breakup. That story, Hanks says, gets at what he loves about typewriters: permanence. “You are literally stamping ink into the fibers of paper,” he says. “Outside of chiseling it in stone, it’s about the second-best way to make something last forever.” He even tried writing some of his fiction that way. But, he admits, he lost patience after four pages. Once you’re wrestling with the actual mechanics of the story, he says, “you have to go with the laptop.” ■