TWO-TIME Academy Award winner Tom Hanks has turned his hand to writing short stories. Fellow actor Steve Martin is one of a few singing Uncommon Type's praises on the book's back cover.
"It turns out that Tom Hanks is also a wise and hilarious writer with an endlessly surprising mind. Damn it," Martin writes.
Bestselling author Ann Patchett also joins the chorus.
"Reading Tom Hanks's Uncommon Type is like finding out that Alice Munro is also the greatest actress of our time," she writes.
The stories are certainly easy to read.
From a Second World War veteran taking a yearly phone call from a frontline mate in Christmas Eve 1953 to a freshly divorced woman in A Month on Greene Street, Hanks shows an adeptness in developing characters.
He hones in on finer details to reveal personality traits.
Christmas Eve 1953 is particularly poignant and it feels like Hanks draws on his Saving Private Ryan film experience when describing the scenes of war throughout the story.
"No one realised his artery had been severed because the pool of blood under Ernie never spread, but was absorbed by the damp ground," Hanks writes.
"Nobody saw it. Attention was not paid as closely as it should have been since there were Germans trying to kill them from somewhere on the other side of the hedgerow in the French bocage." (Bocage is grazing land.)
And Hanks holds a reader's attention throughout the short narratives.
His writing is simple and no fuss and great for a first-time author.
I will watch with interest how he develops his skills of metaphor and imagery if he continues to write. Overall, Uncommon Type delivers shiny snapshots of American life.
Another lovely touch is featuring a typewriter in the stories.
Hanks collects them and it is this hobby that has inspired him to write the collection.
I like my short stories grittier and with a stronger sense of foreboding or anticipation, such as Patrick White's creations, but there is no doubt Uncommon Type will be at the top of many Hanks fans' Christmas lists this year.
Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks RRP $32.99 is out now through Penguin.