Category Archives: Short Stories

Uncommon Type

Title: Uncommon Type
Author: Tom Hanks
Publisher: Deckle Edge, October 2017

Summary/Review: Yes, that Tom Hanks.

This is a collection of 17 really wonderful short stories. I admit that short stories have always been an interest of mine, my favorites being from Stephen King, but I am getting off target.

I discovered that Tom Hanks is a “serious” writer in addition to his work on successful screen plays after happening upon his opinion piece in the New York Times about his love affair with the mechanical typewriter (link below) I was most impressed by the author’s ability to create scenes and timeframes as many of these stories take place in the past.

These are really feel-good stories about an immigrant who makes his way in the US, a bowling savant who just can’t seem to roll anything but perfect games when not working at Home Depot, a time traveler who overstays his welcome in the past, a woman who types for the love of the activity — kind of ordinary situations described in a very friendly, relaxed manner nothing like the immediate sound bite copy we have all become used to. An interesting plot line, which runs through many of these tales is the central role the plain old mechanical typewriter plays in forcing the typist to slow down to think about and feel the words being imprinted directly on the paper, not recorded electronically for later editing.

I think heartwarming stories would be a good description of this collection. You will NOT be scared, bothered or distressed. There are no rapes, gratuitous sex or violence to be found here.

Take the time to read at least a few of these. You won’t be disappointed.

Recommended by: Mark Z., guest reviewer.

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Cabinet of Curiosities

[Cover]

Title: Cabinet of Curiosities: 36 Tales Brief & Sinister

Authors: Stefan Bachmann, Emma Trevayne, Katherine Catmull, & Claire Legrand

Published:  Greenwillow Books, 2014

Summary/Review:  This book of short stories is presented by four outstanding children’s/YA authors.  Asked to collect their most horrifying stories, the authors have formed a “cabinet” to share amongst themselves and with the public the tales of terror they have found across the world. The tales are divided between themed sections including fairies, magic, music, and more.  The tales range between slightly creepy and odd to downright scary, many leaving the reader guessing about the future.  (Some of the less-satisfying endings are brought to a conclusion in the final chapter of the book, where the “curators” revisit some of the characters they have found.)  Adults will easily recognize the fine writing of the book, which does not rely heavily upon gore and shock factors, but instead relies on the quality of both the prose and the stories themselves.

This book would make a great read-aloud for parents (who may want to read the stories ahead of time, lest some of them are too scary for their children) but would also serve wonderfully for those busy children that can’t devote a ton of time to their pleasure reading.  Clocking in between 5 and 25 pages each (for the most part), children could skip around and find the story that suits their time limit.

Who will like this book?:  Someone looking for a creepy read.  While the book itself is over 400 pages, the actual stories themselves are short – so they could work well for a child who is pressed for time or who doesn’t have the patience to sit through 400 pages of the same story.

If you like this, try this:  If you’re looking for more creepy stories, try the Alan Schwartz “Scary Stories” series.  While those illustrations are far scarier than those found in “Cabinet”, the stories are the same caliber of scary (with slightly more gore).  The four authors of “Cabinet” are prominent children’s and YA authors, so if you like a particular writer’s stories, there’s plenty more from them available.  If you’re looking into more short stories, Jon Scieszka has a series of “Guy Reads” books, including one titled “Thrillers”.  And as always, these are NOT just for guys!

Recommended by:  Lauren O, Library staff

If this looks like a book you’d like to read, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or to place a hold