How Tom Hanks the Movie Star Became Tom Hanks the Short Story Writer

How Tom Hanks the Movie Star Became Tom Hanks the Short Story Writer
From TIME - November 3, 2017

When you think of Tom Hanks, its likely his award-winning performances in Forrest Gump, Big and Cast Away come to mind first.

Next, you might consider his soothingly familiar voice, particularly his vocal-work as Sheriff Woody in the Toy Story films, a series adored by adults and kids alike.

Finally, you might turn your thoughts to Hanks highly amusing Twitter presence, where he indulges in a childish love of trolling people, from the actor Woody Harrelson to his own fans.

But now, the beloved movie star has yet another skill to add to the long list: his writing. Last month, Hanks first collection of short stories was published by Penguin Random House. The anthology, called Uncommon Type, contains 17 short stories on a variety of topics, from an Eastern European immigrants arrival in New York City to the tale of a woman adjusting to life after divorce.

But how did Tom Hanks the movie star become Tom Hanks the short story writer? On Nov. 1, the two-time Academy Award winner took the stage at the Southbank Centres 2017 London Literature Festival to discuss making the move from the screen to the page. Heres what we learned from his remarks.

1. Nora Ephron inspired him to write

Hanks said the American writer and filmmaker, with whom he worked on the 1993 romantic comedy Sleepless in Seattle, helped inspire him to write.

Nora always said, Well, you wrote that. And I said, I didnt write that, that was just me complaining in a rehearsal! And she said No, no, thats what it is, thats what writing is,' he told the packed crowd. She had always given me these writing props and bonafides. Everything we worked on together we approached from a writing perspective.

Years ago, Hanks sent Ephron a copy of an article he had written for the New York Times. I sent it to Nora and she kept coming back to me with suggestions, he said. The biggest one was voice, voice, voice.'

2. He isnt a huge poetry fan

Hanks said he wrote a short story called Alan Bean Plus Four, which was published in the New Yorker in 2014. In preparation for writing it, he read two volumes of the best writing from the New Yorker. I read everything but the poetry. Forgive me.

3. But hes big on non-fiction

Hanks said he reads a lot of non-fiction and loves reading the work of Bill Bryson, whose books include A Walk in the Woods and A Short History of Nearly Everything. Bill Bryson could write about forks, he joked. He could write about a chimney and Im there.

4. He owns more than 150 typewriters (but didnt write his short stories on them)

5. Theres one book he really wishes he had written

6. His favorite library is no surprise

7. The idea for most of the stories in his collection began with the title

8. He lied about having read Moby Dick for a very long time


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