Tom Hanks’s writing is yet another sad story of how men write women
The actor’s debut collection, Uncommon Type, is blighted by Hollywood’s obsession with female bodies – but he’s not the only author to write too much about hair and breasts
Seeing a movie star writing fiction is a bit like seeing a dog deliver a speech – we’re rarely impressed at how good it is, but that they’ve done it at all is a marvel. Tom Hanks’s debut short-story collection Uncommon Type alternates sparks of genuine literary talent with cliche and worn-out archetypes. It is largely enjoyable stuff – so it’s a shame, then, that Hanks’s real failing is his total inability to write a fully fleshed-out female character, to the point where the reader is left with the unshakeable impression that while Hanks may have heard women described, he has never actually met one.
At a time when all eyes are on Hollywood’s treatment of women, a few poorly written female characters might seem trivial and Hanks’s folksy, nice-guy schtick makes it hard to criticise him. Calling him out for mild sexism that clearly isn’t intended feels like kicking a puppy (if a puppy had two Oscars and the sense to know better).