Tom Hanks is a fine actor (a lot better than his success gives people reason to deny); an interesting producer (From the Earth to the Moon, Band of Brothers); and now it turns out he can write. Very well. I don’t know whether the stories in this book would have been published if they hadn’t been written by Hanks. I’d like to think so, because they’re just so wonderfully readable.
The prose is straightforward. And when I say ‘straightforward’ I do NOT mean Dan Brown ‘straightforward’. I mean that he’s not playing with words and showing off how cleverly he can write. There are no literary pyrotechnics. He’s just telling stories, in as easy-to-read and elegant a manner as he can. Some are funny. Some are touching. With the exception of a short screenplay, they all succeed.
Stand-outs are A Junket in the City of Light (in which a young actor is thrown into an exhausting publicity tour; A Month on Green Street (in which a divorced mother gets entirely the wrong idea about a new neighbor); and my favourite, A Special Weekend (in which a ten year old boy celebrates his birthday with his divorced mother). TH manages to write it so that you, the adult reader, know exactly what’s going on while, at the same time, letting you see everything from the child’s perspective. And if that isn’t the sign of a good writer, I have absolutely no idea what is.