Tom Hanks's writing is yet another sad story of how men write women

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). But in his 17 stories, there are – at least – 17 missed opportunities for Hanks to write a convincing female character who isn’t either defined entirely by her appearance or hyper-aware of her own […]

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