Fall is a time when book publishers release some of their most prestigious and noteworthy titles. And Take Two is previewing some of this week's books with a So Cal twist. Entertainment Weekly book critic Leah Greenblatt is our guide.
"Uncommon Type" by Tom Hanks
The title is a little bit of a clue. It's 17 stories, but there's a theme running through all of them, which is there's a vintage typewriter in every story. He's sort of a famous collector of typewriters, that's one of his things. Movie stars have had worse habits.
There's some show business stories in it, but they're very humanistic small portraits of people in different lives. There's one about this kid. It's his 19th birthday. His dad takes him surfing. He realizes his dad's having an affair.
It's very Hanks-y. The guy we picture, that humongous movie star meets America's dad figure that he is. He's golly gee whiz, that sort of language, that sort of charming old fashioned way that he tends to talk is very much his writing. We're not talking MacArthur Genius Grant stuff here, but with the built-in affection you already have for him, it makes you predisposed just to enjoy them.
"Unqualified" by Anna Faris
It's sort of a quasi memoir slash advice book, and it's all based and named after her podcast, Anna Faris' Unqualified. It reads very conversational and she's very self deprecating. She talks about finding herself in acting and community theater and then coming to Hollywood and getting this big break in Scary Movie and then meeting and falling in love with Chris Pratt, who writes the foreword. Unfortunately, this book came right on top of the announcement that their marriage was ending, but he did revise it.
It's kind of true to her persona as an actress. It's kind of goofy and sweet and there will be chapters that are just lists where she talks about the guys you should never date, so it's listicles mixed with these memoir bits and advice on relationships and actressing and all that stuff.
There's a lot of goodwill toward her as a person and an actress, and I think there's sympathy for her right now and she is charming and she comes across as a very relatable person. She talks about her insecurities and plastic surgeries and just what it's like to turn 40 in the industry. I liked it. I thought it was a nice, very marshmallow sweet little book.
"The Power" by Naomi Alderman
Naomi Alderman is a British writer. She has written a sort of speculative, dystopian fiction that's a bizarro world Handmaid's Tale almost where young girls start to discover they have this power in their bodies. There's a skein that runs along their collar bones that's basically like an electric eel but a lot more powerful. Suddenly, they can basically kill men with their fingertips. It's a little bit of a satire, but it's got some deep freaky moments in it and it's really engaging.
I think it's a very fortuitous moment for this book to come along. This does feel like it could connect with Millennials, but it also feels timeless in the way that good books do if they want to survive the moment. So many people are going back now and reading Handmaid's Tale the same way they're reading 1984 and all these other fitting dystopian books in 2017.
Leah Greenblatt is Critic at Large for Entertainment Weekly.