Publishers Weekly Review
Oscar-winner Hanks's debut collection is a wide-ranging affair of 17 stories threaded together by the recurring image of typewriters-some stories, like the intriguing "These Are the Meditations of My Heart," build entire narratives around the machines, while others mention them in passing. In "Alan Bean Plus Four," one of the collection's best entries, four friends decide to build a backyard rocket and orbit the moon. These same characters star in two more stories, the enjoyable bowling yarn "Steve Wong Is Perfect," and the less noteworthy "Three Exhausting Weeks," which uses standard romantic comedy tropes in recollecting a wacky and doomed relationship. Hanks's stories sometimes lead to pat, happy endings, but not always-"Christmas Eve 1953" develops a simple holiday story into a rumination on war. Similarly, "The Past Is Important to Us" employs a sharp, unexpected conclusion to elevate a story of time travel and romance at the 1939 World's Fair. Hanks's narrators speak with similar verbal tics-multiple narrators say "Noo Yawk," for example-but the stories they tell generally charm. The only true misfires come when Hanks breaks away from traditional structure: the story-as-screenplay "Stay With Us" drags, and faux newspaper columns by man of the people Hank Fiset start clever but turn grating. 250,000-copy announced first printing. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.