When Tom Hanks spoke at the Portland Book Fest last November he was exactly the guy you expected and hoped to see. A regular Joe without pretense who still seems surprised by his popularity and appeal. What a rarity in the high profile Hollywood machine and in the literary world as well. Especially enjoyable were his down to earth, humble responses to the high brow NYT interviewer who was no doubt trying to impress with her vocabulary. It didn’t fly with Tom. In discussing his bestseller, Uncommon Type, he credited Nora Ephron for being the first to tell him he was a story teller and encouraging him to take up the pen. Or in this case, the typewriter. Ah, yes, the typewriter. An avid collector of antique and vintage typewriters, Hanks shared how he came up with the idea to weave them into his tales. So, each of the 17 fiction stories includes a typewriter. Some play a very integral part of the plot while others may get no more than a spot on the closet shelf. The fun part is to see where and how each will show up. Readers love the gentleness and intelligence that comes through in the writing. Romance, intrigue, nostalgia, futuristic experiments … something for everyone and at just the right dose. It’s a perfect book to pack in your suitcase and it’s easy to pick up for a quick escape read at home. It doesn’t pretend to be a great piece of literature. Uncommon Type succeeds at being a dependable, entertaining treat on all levels. Much like its author. Thanks, Tom!
Bringing a book to the silver screen is no doubt a daunting task. We in the audience have experienced the disappointing results when the transfer doesn’t work and the cheers when it does. Here’s hoping this next title is in the latter category. Look out Jodi Picoult fans. Her latest novel Small Great Things is bound for Hollywood and slated to star Viola Davis and Julia Roberts. Even though Picoult’s past novel-to-movie venture My Sister’s Keeper got mixed reactions, its brutal look at the subjects of medical emancipation and euthanasia caused quite a stir. Small Great Things looks to channel this very visceral and raw look at the current rhetoric in the society right now. Indeed, at a time when the political and social climate is charged with issues related to color, there couldn’t be a more appropriate environment to tell a tale about race relations and white supremacy on the big screen. Casting choice for the two lead roles has already sprouted sides for and against. Fingers crossed that this dream team can do justice to a powerful story. Read our Staff Picks to find out more about the book including what inspired its title. Note: At this writing, production date has yet to be announced.