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Tom Hanks


Hey It's Andrew the director of Literary Arts Literary Arts. We rely on our community. People like you for support to help make this podcast and all our programming possible give today literary Dash Arts Dot Org forward slash donate welcome to the archive project. I'm Andrew Procter Executive Director after of Literary Arts The archive project is a retrospective of some of the most engaging talks from the world's best writers for more than thirty five years of Literary Arts and Portland Orland support for the Archive Project comes from Cole. Haan the fashion brand. That's acknowledging extraordinary. People who write read and shape the world through their extraordinary stories. All this and more at Cole. Haan Dot Com in this episode. We feed your Tom. Hanks from Portland Book Festival November Twenty. Eighteen the Portland Book Festival. Two Thousand Nineteen lineup has just been announced. The festival will take place on November ninth in downtown Portland for more information about the author lineup schedule and tickets visit literary Dash Arts Dot Org in this. Show Tom Hanks is in conversation with columnist and senior editor at The New York Times Book Review Parole Sehgal. Hanks joined us on the occasion of the publication of the paperback of hangs his first collection of fiction uncommon type. I want to start off with a Corny joke. A writer and in a brain surgeon are chatting at a cocktail party. The brain surgeon says it's so great. You're a writer when I retire. I'm going to become a writer to the response Ho. That's it's funny because when I retire I'm going to become a brain surgeon like I said it's a Corny joke but as someone who loves books I'm always a little suspicious when a Hollywood star car or a famous politician publishes fiction a memoir. Sure but short stories the hardest of all fiction so it is remarkable that uncommon type is a book of accomplished stories the great novelist and patching described it this way quote reading Tom. Hanks uncommon type is like finding out that Alice. Munro Oh is one of the greatest actresses of our time. This onstage conversation gives us insight on the perspective and the process of an incredibly gifted person. Hanks thanks borrows the lessons of empathy and the insights into human motivation from decades performing and applies them with humor sensitivity and artistry fiction. Here's Tom Hanks in conversation Peru sable some so honored to be here with you Tom and thank you so much for coming out. I wanted to start at the beginning of this book which I read with intense admiration and wonder wonder so. This book is dedicated to your family. But it's also dedicated to Nora Nora. EPHRON director your collaborator. And you've said that in interviews that she was the first person who said you're a writer. What did she say? I was extremely cranky. Actor Tur- at the time I met her for the first time and we were talking about the Sleepless in Seattle and I'd seen the movie that she had director certainly aware of all of her chops that were spread across all of the Arts Oliver Fabulous career and was impressed with her that she had made the film as authentic as. I'M GONNA scream out the name of the first film at a second if anybody can out there scream at format appreciate. Pardon me now you'll get it later on at Julia Cabinet Rennet and she was playing a single mom who is becoming a stand up comedian and when we were when we were putting it all together ahead she and her sister Delia. who were riding it? I I was not only I was. I was cranky actor but is also a guy who kept saying to them. You guys you wrote a man you wrote a Dad. You don't get it you don't know what it's like to be a man and to be a dad. The big the big scene was where you know the the the the I was going to go out on a date and the kid didn't want me to go on a date and they wrote a scene in which the dad said. Well I just don't know what to do. My sound doesn't want me. He doesn't want me to go out and I said are you nuts. It's you know what a dad would say to a kid. I don't want you to go out with shut up kid. You listen to me a little Brad. You Little Monster Sturt on the House and guess what I want to get L. A. I. D. The version of that ended up in the movie. And we're all done. Norris said you know you wrote that scene scene. I said I was just cranky during one of our meetings and I always ragging on you know. That's what writing is to come up with something and we collaborated on two other big things we made you've got mail. And then she was around she passed away just before we went into rehearsals Hertzel's for her play a lucky guy and she and I exchanged an awful lot of stuff that she was working on that it didn't do and also I began to send her some things the screenplays of course and ideas for movies but the major thing that happened was my makeup man. Danny street pack. Who who I had made fifteen movies with called me not long after we re this? I'm not trying to drop all the names of these movies. But that's actually how I keep track of time time you know. I don't know how old I was but I do know that I made the Davinci code for about six months after the Davinci Code Dan Dan. Dan called me up as a kid. The first call I make it I am done and I don't mean done. I mean done done. He was retiring and I congratulated congratulated. MSN and I wanted to. I wanted to ask him about his his career which I spent about four hours and I wrote a piece about him about my relationship with a man his his really impressive history Danny. He manufactured the masks for the first planet of the Apes. He he made Laurence Olivier's knows for spartacus and he applied Elvis Presley's Tan in Viva Las Vegas. So it's kind of amazing career and I so I wrote this thing and I sent it to Nora and I said is this a thing and she says yes I it is not quite but it will be and when you finish you'll send it to the New York Times and they won't run it in the Sunday style section but they will run it in the Thursday style section and. That's exactly what happened but in the exchange back and forth Nora just kind of tore me a new one would. It came down to attempting a piece of journalism that was used like twice. The length of a normal piece would be because it was a bit of a feature and she said after many many many suggestions in drops APPS. She sent me the last time. I sent her a piece. Well what do you think of this. She just wrote back voice voice voice voice voice. Many that you got something there. But where's where's your voice and I say the books the title Pager. The dedication is because of Nora. Because Nora said to me your instinctive thrust stories your day job goes is just an application of discipline and will bill to becoming a writer. And if you WANNA do that you you've got the goods but you just you're going to have to do the work you don't have to develop your voice I mean when I teach Voices the thing that conversation returns to the students are obsessed with. How do I sound distinctive? How do I sound like myself? And I think they're probably writers here who are we're also wondering about this question and this book has such idiosyncratic particular green in the voice and I was wondering how did you go about developing voice voice for his. Well I think it comes back to what my day job is your which I don't really ever. I haven't thought about what I do for the my popular living ever since I was in high school. I just you know. kind of like sought had an instinctive thrust and threw myself into it. And if anybody wanted to tell me to knock it off and try something else I was more than happy. Happy to the the every one of the stories has has A. I'm trying to think of how best to put it. I wouldn't don't WanNa say voice but it does. It has a Patina. It has a tempo to it. It has a perspective that comes down into. Well it's written in the first person or is it much more narrative there is a. I've been very lucky that I've I've done enough films. With enough filmmakers to get a sense of their style their voice each one very different for the even right down to how they shoot or rehearsal film and so I was lucky that I was pliable enough you just go along with somebody else. Establishing the rules are and I found that the idea for a story needed a theme that was worthy of being examined Salmond but it also it also needed that that narrative sensibility. It had to have rules and once I was able to discover the roles then and I could follow them and say also you know this began because I had a short story that was printed in the New Yorker which struck me as They were in between leadership roles over there or something fell into some kind of crack. It's like who'd you send Esther Newberg my. Who'd would you send this to well? We tried people magazine and then we tried scar magazine and okay out of the UK but then we send it to the New Yorker and they seem to bite at it well Oh that's just astounding to me and when the when the call came in. Would you like to do some more. I've got more themes that I'd like to examine. But how many would it be. And they said well we we did about fifteen a fifteen you know I think I can muster that up I can come up with with or that some filler. But in in as as they as they came to me and as they got written in as I did the work there was quite frankly a bit of the yearning in order to land on some other some other set of rules for some of the stories there's columns from a cranky newspaper columnists there's a there's a bit of a screenplay Blade version of the story that comes in go back and forth between the narrative styles and some of the perspectives. And I think that's what's going to strike people as they read this. This book is just. That's what struck me is how playful it is and how inventive it is on the level of form. You know you're trying to do so many different things and you tell stories in so many different ways. What are these pent up stories? Some of them definitely were my. I have a company of a a production company. Every not head actor has a production company for a while but mine lasted for really good long time because I allied myself I self about twenty years ago with people who know how to do the things that I don't know how to do And I did that so that I would not be an actor waiting for the phone to ring industry. Would you please come on and do something I wanted. I wanted to create some version of of our own product and all we do down at the office Leinen each other's doorways doorways. And say you know that saying you're read I don't is that a movie or is it more like a TVs here. I don't know if we can cover that in. I think we need ten or twelve hours to to do that. And so we're always looking for what the form is going to be the best way to examine what the theme really is that deserves examination. The Nation. Sometimes it's a documentary and we'll we'll play around with almost anything but a number of them will like for example. There's one it's called a welcome to Mars. It's about a father who takes his son surfing on his birthday. Donna anonymous day in the summertime and that came about because I am Possibly the most horrible embarrassing surfer you ever saw. I mean I'm just imagine what I would look like and I pretty much got it. You know it's kind of like goofy all in my posture's never right but I was surfing about. I'm going to say almost was thirty years ago and I was coming out of the water and it was early morning. It was a work day and I saw in a very expensive automobile. The guy in his surfer wetsuit and he had a towel around him because he was talking to a very very beautiful woman was behind the driver's seat of this expensive car. And that's the story what's going on there. Yeah what's happening between those two. Is that illicit or and then that always stuck in my head and I always thought that there was some aspect of of a son discovering that his father was not quite the man he was supposed to be an end. How how how deep would those ripples be? What's so I mean my hunch? Is that for every writer. A story present itself in a different way. I'm sure there's some. Writers are motivated by a memory or a character. What's the germ of the story? Free you what do you need to get started honestly. Sometimes I need a title you know a title Title I money example time will tell you I was sitting around talking to a fellow. Hello a friend of mine and just kind of like both thing that somebody in the famous people's Club. I know you. You know we're famous. Let's talk happens doubt. We we started. We started talking about Memorabilia You know and shows for mimic because we sometimes every now we land on. What's what's the show on on? PBS Talking to an Oregon audience and which they bring their antiques. Not Antics roadshow and how. There's some things that are pieces of junk and some things are are valuable and we were both fascinated by this and he said to to me. I love that show because it demonstrates how important the past can be to us and there's a story in there that's about time travel to we. We ended up talking about what we would do. If we had a time machine and where we would go so you got one day you could go. You can go to any place you want to. Where would you go and mine is always been the nineteen nineteen thirty nine world's fair and so I wrote a story called because the past is important to it literally came from from that title others others you get a sense of what the work towards the last line or the last paragraph or sometimes just the last image of one and there's a story called a special weekend about a boy who is taken up in an airplane for the first time by his His Mom's new boyfriend and he looks for them up in the scan. There's no sign nine of them anywhere up in the sky as they flew away so a the had written three or four of them. Actually I wrote Won The second story I wrote was go see Costa. Which is the story of my father-in-law actually and we put a typewriter in it? And Peter Gathers my agent said Oh I like like that little bit with a typewriter and I said you know maybe Mitt. Let's put it. How could I put a time? Always asked him permission. Can I write a story. Twelve pages long. Yes yes yes you can. You can write a story twelve pages long. Can I write a story fort. Yes you can you can. Can I do it in blue ink if you want to do it in blue ink you go right ahead you know. I don't know. Are there rules I. I don't WanNa Piss anybody off. I I WANNA get a plus for this and then you know get out of Dodge and ah I said what if what if I put a typewriter in every story like an Easter egg and maybe it's a big thing and maybe it's just a small thing and he granted his permission for me to do that. And a couple of the stories just began with a typewriter. Where would I what? Where would that typewriter being and what would be the history around and so they say that people who speak multiple languages are a little bit different every language they speak and I was is wondering if something is true for artists who drove across different disciplines? You know you've been on the stage and film. Now you're in fiction. I wondered wondered do you. Are you attracted to different stories or do you see a certain kind of continuity in the stories and questions and characters that you're attracted to you know I get this a lot in my day job a as a two Time Academy Award winning the shame on me Sometimes you just got uncork that let the people know. Sometimes you know we call it. We call drop in the H. Bomb every now and again. Excuse me yeah three for dinner. We do not have any tables available. I'm sorry I'm Tom. Hanks let me see what I can. Do you know she shameless. I'm sorry it's absolutely shameless. But as one of the reasons people go into into the business there is there is a there is a countenance that I think that any artis this carries and it doesn't necessarily matter what the discipline is that they're working in that countenance remains and that is some combination of who they are secretly secretly who they are externally by way of the entire body of work and what it is meant to people that has seen it by and large and sometimes it can be viewed as the negative aspects of pitching holding right. Like you'll never do never be anything other than a light comedian or you never be anything anything other than a dark heavy. You'll never once vincent price played as bad guy. He was always Vincent Price. The bad guy there and well you can look at that that in a negative form or you can look at it as quite liberating because then every time you take a job every time you drawn to something to say yes to You get to secretly expand the level of what that countenances longer just a color on the rainbow. But you can kinda get into the red and the orange in the green and off to the dark side of Indigo Violet Red Blue Orange Yellow Indigo Roy. G Bill which you just the way you remembered it back in science school. What are the colors of the rainbow? Just they could be a good friend Roy G BIV so in that I must. Let's say I was. I was never the only thing that a intimidated about this was the actual work load the actual process assess the solitary job of writing. Something that you and only you can determine his should go on but the nature of of of the countenance of all the stories always did come back to I think this which also governs the vast majority of choices. I make in my day job and that is I'm not interested in the standard antagonised protagonist narrative. I don't I'M NOT I. Don't I enjoy movies where someone says before I kill you Mr Bond. Perhaps you'd like a tour of my installation. I don't I don't those things are fund their oblast or ultra ultra. Cam comes down from his plan. He wants to enslave the earth and turn us all into food. I dig that those are those are those are fun sometimes. But in order to in order for it to be truly the reason I think we all search for a search out art or stories or film television. L. Vision is to see some version of ourselves and versions of ourselves are always just trying to get to the end of the day. If we're lucky we meet somebody who's like minded and aids us. It's the second best lucky can have is that you meet an obstacle that slows. You down just for a while but then you get around it and I think that is that translates from what I do for what I've done for a living since I was twenty one to what I started when I was sixty one or even then I think I think it's. It's they're even before that I wrote a a wonderful interview that you did when you're talking about growing up and realizing the essential difference difference between you and your father. Father was a chef and then he he taught in a Vocational School Hotel and restaurant. Food preparation an inquiry the some version of quote where you said that my father was very good with his hands. I was very good with my verbs. And it's an extraordinary thing to say and so I wanted to talk about when did that early sensitivity and pleasure in language. When did that begin for you very early because because I was the third of four kids but I never lived with my younger brother? My parents split up when he was just a baby. So I was always the youngest in the house and everybody everybody else pioneered the boundaries of behavior. You know the older kids got in trouble for doing things and my older brother. Other kind of showed how you navigate between all the stuff because the prow of the ship was getting beaten up by the ice and I was I I was just guy in the back who could add the wise crack to it you know. And and somehow viewed as adorable. And doesn't that just explain Blaine my career in a nutshell but I I grew up never intimidated by a new circumstance. I we moved around a lot now going into always going into some new school and I always thought it was a bit of a grand adventure. My other members of my family were more crippled by type of shyness That my dad had but I always just thought hot damn and I'm going to a brand new fifth grade today. who needs seducing? I'm here to seduce. I never ran afoul of any teacher. Never even though I was a guy in the back cracking wise every now and again they say all right Mr Hanks. You're so great you're so funny going to give you an a but knock that off. Why is that is it? Because you had some sort of Predator natural roll ability to understand how people work and to sort of figure that out. I would have to look sure. Well Dr we only have fifty minutes in order to stay to the biology. Okay all right I think that I I I grew up in a even though we my parents divorced when we moved around a lot everybody I came across was pretty bullet benevolent and fair. I think that's I think that's a big deal. Will I never thought I was getting the raw deal except by you know I think there may be like. There's the proportion I think think of the same I think ninety percent of the people in the world are good and fair and live by some version of what the golden rule is you know. Treat other people people as you would like to be treated yourself. I think five percent are absolute. But that's a pretty good That's a pretty good proportion. If you get away with only five percent your head of the game and I'm going to say somewhere you know the remainder of just some people will just start nuts and there's nothing you can do to help them. I mean you know. I'm sorry. Sorry but ninety percent of good. That's that's who I felt. As though that that there's an awful lot of things came into into account that allowed me that kind of taxes. But that's the way I always felt and I felt that from a very early age. I want to ask you a quick question about your instagram. Okay which I really recommend. I'm not even on instagram. But I will get on my husband's account just to lurk on your account so great it's so great diabolical my harmless this vice typewriters to you. Everybody's GonNa have that's a harmless vice but so you're instagram to describe it and there's a lot going on there but by by and large it's it's almost as if your cameras trained on the ground and you take pictures of of lost and forgotten objects so a glove discarded umbrella childs shoe. And there's some little puns like loss soul and I love this. I love it it. It's funny but it also sort of strikes me I find it very moving and I it strikes. It's almost this surplus of empathy that spilling over onto these objects and I was wondering is empathy important to you as as a writer. Is it something you think about in your fiction trying to evoke it in order through to try I try to define what empathy is. It might be the question that that I think art creates is what what would I do if I was in the same situation. What how would I handle that and sometimes It can be fantastic. You'll be something from a mythical era but you'll still kind of thing. Well you know. What would I do under that circumstance and I don't know if it's in some I'm sure some of the greatest art in the world has been created with absolutely no empathy whatsoever? You know somebody writes. It's the way it is deal with disagreement the Iran. You're wrong that's okay because you can choose to disagree with you then you move on down the line But I I I was very. I didn't really know that I wanted to be an actor but I knew that I wanted to be part of something that was as as urban is a word. For prevent turgid exciting involving focused as is being an ensemble player in the telling of a story and one of the first perfect. Actually the first professional play that I was man. I've just played a servant urban in in hamlet but we got to hear the hamlet deliver his advice to the players every night and he says you know. hold the mirror up to nature. I thought that was like that's what that's what we do. Because you can ask yourself. Well what would I do if I was an old man and I was Polonia. So what would I do if I was a a young woman in love with hamlet like affiliates and you can also ask yourself what would I do if I was hamlet. I probably be pretty pissed off and that that I think that that can be skewed as it may not actual empathy but can guide you into that sense of fairness that I think that that we always seek. You did choose for this book. What's been called one of the most unforgiving art forms like novels? You can get away with a lot you know. They're big and baggy but in the short short-story everything it feels. Like everything has to be purposeful. Everything has to matter and has some significance and some relationship to the story. Can you tell me a little bit about some of the pleasures of working with this art form. I would say that the biggest one is where you were. I started started writing about one thing and ended up writing about something else. Then it was. There's there's a saying sang among some of the directors. Know is that when they start cutting the movie which is the third time you make the movie from scratch. Say the movie will tell us what it needs to be you and you you have to be open to that that kind of like title shift in for example. There's a there's a story called Christmas Eve nine hundred and fifty three which started out for me. I just wanted to talk about guys who are twenty years old in the battle of the bulge. Judge that maybe survived at what they were like when they were twenty nine thirty thirty one how do they how can they go from that. At the absolute apex of their a youth and then ten years later be setting up an electric train around the Christmas tree for their for their ten year. Old Kids. How do they do that that what what did they talk it out? What what what was? What was the mental and physical journey that they went through from that absolute hell in one place where their lives were on? Hold for the better part of five years to act to when they're just beginning to get on with the rest of things and in writing it. I was concentrating on Virgil who is the veteran coming home on Christmas Eve. Nineteen fifty three but then it shifted to his old buddy that calls him every every Christmas Eve at the same time and their experiences have taken them to completely different places in the in the cultural zeitgeist white guy of a combat veteran one man is embraced in the great warm hearth of family. He got literally some version of a reward board for what he went through and the other guy will never get that and I'll never even be close to that the he there's a there's a when you just give. CBS Show applause here rights. You know just all right all right so you know as well as I do that every now and again you type something and it's so good you gotta sit back and go you look around for somebody to share it with and guess what you're in a room all by yourself for another five and a half hours but There was a guy up with Virgil says to his buddy on the phone. Bud says I things things are busy at. The shop. Wanted to see if you ever need anything. Come on buying. We'll put you to work for me in the shop. And he said Oh man. I'd rather I'd rather punch a cop than punch a clock and and I'm might have heard that before but when I wrote it. I just thought I was smoking hot. There you know I just thought Oh Tommy or in the high country now. That is but that that the I wouldn't know how to do it any other way other than starting with what you think is five or six really great beats in a theme mm-hmm that is fascinating to you. But then you discover this whole other. Tributary that you end up going down and it ends up it ends up being what what what those forty four twenty seven hundred sixty pages need in order to make it. Have that solid beginning middle and end that every story really has but it also be that theme make it worthy of the theme that you were trying to examine now and I think that's actually it sounds like your processes actually actually in certain ways. It reminds me of what your stories are about. which is the role of chance and choice? In Life serendipity and and sort of like how do people's lives happen to them and I've read all the reviews of your book and one of the things that I wonder why people aren't mentioning more is how many of these stories stories about immigrants immigrant rights. So I was wondering about your. Where does your sort of curiosity? Or what is the potential that character for you. I grew up in Oakland California. which there you go Which I didn't realize at the time but might have been officially the most integrated city in America? Erica vibe rode the bus with and it was every nationality and heritage and you know that there was my my stepmother mother who was the great love of my dad's life was a woman named Francis Wong and she grew up. She was a first generation American. Her parents were China and she. I grew up in San Francisco Chinatown when it truly was a cultural ghetto where literally no Caucasians lived in there and they called grant street the dough bond guy and she spoke with an accent. My I lived a I grew up in a lot of naval housing guys in the Navy and there were always Latinos does in Filipinos there. I just I just grew up around this a large Milan j- if I'm using the words correctly a hodgepodge of people whose parents all came from all over the place. The I made the movie with a bunch of guys from Somalia. Three of them had the most stunning stories of how they came to America. And here's what they all had in common. They loved living in Minneapolis. Minnesota I WANNA to say hey you like oh I love I love Minnesota. Isn't it cold. Hold me yes. It's very cold but I love Minnesota and my there's one of the stories that in is literally it's the immigrants. It's the saga of my father-in-law how he came to America. Right after world. War Two and so The I think there are people that are just looking for a fair shake and a fair opportunity and I think that's you know that that is that is one of the promises of the promised. Land that America's supposed to be you come the new you come in you do the work and oh I would say Somali guys is is there is the root of one of the characters in the in the three four characters name is m dash and he's one of the guys that comes. I said I just love America. I don't know how it works but I love America. How can which character gave you the most trouble I I will not trouble is one thing the one that I that was the hardest I would say to write from a purely Emotional perspective is the little boy in a in a story called a special weekend His name is Kenny. And it's it's it's autobiographical enough in spirit. Not necessarily in detail that I send it to my siblings and I said Hey look this is an us but it's kind of like what we think it's kind of like it's not us but it's kind of like us and they all wrote back and said that sounds about right. Yeah that was pretty much what it was like and and that that's I wanted. I wanted to write a story about a little boys impressions of how special it was to spend a weekend with his mom. Because I didn't live with my mom But I can remember point by point a lot of times she and I were alone together as we were growing up and in the writing of the story week I came to this place where it shifts it shifted completely from the little boy to her and I wasn't expecting that and I must say I've never pondered what my mom mom went through because I didn't live with her. I didn't have to give and take that. My siblings did with her. And the it's it's a moment. Where Kenny has it been in the in the town? For a long time he asks Bingo by their old house and it's a house that he lived in for all of his life until his parents split up et. He went away and lived in another place so for him. He's coming back and seeing you know some version of he's literally seniors youth and he's not even eleven years old yet But for the mom who is sitting there. She's looking at he has nothing. Kenny has nothing but wonderful. Memories of what this house was and what it meant to them but his mom is looking at the the place where her life shifted where a huge thing came to an end and it was bitter and horrible and it was not a good time and when she left she left under the worse conditions imaginable. So in that shift I ended up stumbling upon something that had I guess had been rattling around inside me for an awful long time time and it was not to overuse the word and empathy for what our parents had gone through. You know we think you go on for a long time and you spent everybody goes through this period in which their their parents are just a root of every dumb. Not headed thing you've ever done you know I'm not good because my dad was nice to me. Would we use tool. So that's why can't tools because my dad yelled at me what I try to use tools which is true by the way but I But you get to a place where you start having kids go through you realize your parents were just trying to get through the bitter compromises of the day. They were just dealing with stuff eh. Honestly they were not out to screw up. They're out to make ends meet and to bring peace to the world and that that ended up being. That was probably the story that gave me the most difficulty. When you're in your room by yourself trying to try to try to put the sentences together I mean? That's the reminds me of this thing I've been thinking about you and your work and you have this reputation for you. Know being America's nicest guy and decent the the all these things that I I get it but I also think that I have no idea the pressures under let me just I'm about I'm about got to deflate these things right here but I do. I mean I'm sure that there's something to it but I think that reading these stories helped me sort of realize. I think your interest is much more in understanding. Everybody's motivations right if you understand everybody's motivations it's this is the thing that drives me nuts about out an awful lot of the work. That is not my day job. This is the thing that came to me later which we call it the office nonfiction entertainment. We've done a lot of it. You know a lot of it has been you know John Adams Sir World War Two stuff. We've done quite a few things that we would even play tone. Doug which is the company play tone dubs series for CNN sixties. The seventies avenues the eighties the ninety S and we go at it with this philosophy of. We are not going to alter anybody's motivations. We are not not going to turn somebody into a bad guy or any force it is into a bad force simply because they were wrong being wrong and evil or two different things things and God knows there's evil in this world without a doubt but if you're going back over to long struggle of of of anything just take for example. John Adams Adams we didn't turn other people into evil evil characters. We just turned into the people who are just wrong at the time. They didn't see it through and even John Adams was wrong again and again and again but that concept of of trying to editor Oriel is a brand of history for the sake of the structure I think is a bit of a sin. I think if you're going to do that call it something other than the what it really was. Don't call it. John Adams called the Doug Adams you know call it something else because if you don't you have to be careful if you're going to say based based on a true story or take a historical aspect of it if you're going to be just setting it into a real setting that reflects the world as it actually is. Don't make stuff up. Find out what it's really like and try to make that dynamic. There's a there. There is an example of from from the band of brothers in which there was a character who was just it would just assume that he killed German soldiers German prisoners and they wrote it. The guys wrote the episode and they showed it and I said you can't. You can't do that. We can't show it as the definitive moment that happened. This guy's life and he says well. Everybody says he did it well. Everybody says he did it in different versions and so the the solution was to do it in a rash showman kind of version of it. We saw well. I heard a guy new show that and somebody else said he did this. And somebody else said and that case you get to examine the theme you get to be authentic. But you're not purposefully turning bad guy into a bad guy if he did or did not do what what he was born. I think I think that's important. We also explained this one question I had is. I was reading this book. which is that? They're not exactly interlinking stories but characters reappear and so my favorite stories the first story this poor hapless guys in this relationship with this terrifying terrifying woman and I love this right love this woman and as the story goes on you sort of she comes back and we get a sense of what what sort of motivating this terrifying woman. She becomes very beloved to me. At least I wanna ask you one last question and then we're going to go into this and you mentioned when I asked you we're with the germ of a story was you mentioned. Sometimes the endings occur to you and I was reading your book again again. Last night I was trying to think of a grand unified theory of Tom. Hanks fiction was not working exactly but if I were to I would say that. What joins the stories together other than typewriters or the characters who appear is the particular quality of the endings? Short stories tend to have have particular kinds of structures is a climax. There's a sort of a new model but your story sometimes end on these moments where something has been grasped opt and in the story ends in. It reminds almost leading a balloon. Go and I wanted to know. When do you as a writer? No story is done. When does it feel finished If I was going to be that's a fascinating question because in fact I guess there is something I get up to a point if anybody who's written you just right till the ending is where it needs to be and I think in all of the stories. They end that day and the next day will we'll begin new and they will all the characters will be imprinted to some degree And you realize that. Oh well this is is. This is what their daily lives are like in the story. You're talking about the first one is about the four friends called Threes Austin weeks about a guy who gets a girlfriend for a while and I mean she just whereas amount for three weeks and that came because in the other story that first story that I wrote about them he mentions it. Anna treated me like I was still there still her boyfriend and in parentheses three exhausting weeks and the two that ended up being but I I want to get the characters is to a place where the next day will begun both imprinted by the story that they just read and also free three of it. There's a the one is there about these are the meditations of my heart which is about it's almost verbatim how I got my first really good typewriter but I changed the gender and it's a it's a woman and it ends with her just using the typewriter the first time the sound of typing went on so her life has has been altered and it's made better it's been imprinted but it's going to go on in a different fashion after that and so that's that's when I can get to that place and I was satisfied with that then and then I knew the story was over thank you thank you onto some of these do you WanNa start with a big no bring it on this is the question Winfrey. Hank's twenty twenty. Hanks Winfrey Twenty twenty. Well here's what I would do all right. Well we'll we'll take Oregon uh-huh I won't say Winfrey Hanks because then my job as her running running mate would be to stand just off to the right behind her and stare at doering Lee at the back of her head. The that seems to be what vice presidential candidates always end up doing and that job. I can handle this question about your harmless vice. What is your very favorite typewriter? And why and just to give you some context. You have about one hundred agency about two hundred and fifty some of them are I know I know I plan to be buried with them. We're we're waiting to give them away. Nobody beginning to give them away to. But I and I'm not a sucker you know somebody says hey. I hear you're giving away typewriters. I'd like let me one. I don't get people I don't give them to that people you I have some objects of art that are just like Ricky. None of them are valuable. I mean I mean if they're worth fifty bucks and I signed them. They ended up being worth about fifty. Four Bucks So I do that. It's ridiculous I don't know I don't know how I would start but I I just endured their mechanics engineering and the permanence of what typewriters can can create But the idea of the perfect perfect typewriter it evolves because it's oftentimes of circumstance. I I have a big. I have a number of big huge machines that sit in one place I have Some Olivetti's that are feather light and I can not. I could take them anywhere. I have some kind of like a Raimo. Land trying to trying to pawners typewriter on Yom Kippur in lost weekend. You know. Just give me fifty bucks for this so I can buy me some booze. I got one a couple of those as as well but I would have to say if I had a truly favorite typewriter. It's a typewriter that is now I'm going to say it's ninety eight years old and it's made by royal. It's huge. It's like it's it has the it has the the the sturdiness of like the chassis. From fifty six to Sodo or something it's impervious and here's the amazing thing about it. It it works. Yeah that's right my son. Even the babies are delighted by Old Royal Typewriter. He's he's essentially saying I'd like me one. Get Your info-banks stage and I'll send you typewriter for that That youngster it lasts. It lasts us for another hundred years. The thing about this time router it. It works exactly as it did out of the crate or out of the factory in one thousand nine hundred eighty two. How many devices do we have in our lives? That do not disappoint. You can't buy refrigerated from nine hundred twenty two or a car. Auden pins from nine hundred. Twenty two. Don't work as well as typewriter does now it's astounding. It's so great and lasted so long that it became impossible for the typewriter company to make any money because he did not have built an absence. You didn't you didn't like right into the royal typewriter. Company tried to download typewriter two point. Oh and the truth is it is unhappy Qabail exactly as it was in nineteen twenty two an interesting one I think especially given. I know you're interested in history so the question is have you ever considered writing a nonfiction book. And what would you write about. Not I would not. And here's the reason why I because I think if you're going to write a book about it there is not the same leeway that I have in examining things in the stories that I do we the nonfiction entertainment that we pursue we we do as labors of love and everybody who works on our end up getting sort of like masters degrees in the subject matter we always have something in the hopper that is based on nonfiction Russian and my. I'm not a scholar. You know I wouldn't know embiid I wouldn't know what to the footnotes alone are going to drive unless I can crack joke in the footnotes. I'm not I'm not. I'M NOT GONNA go there so I'm satisfied with I think of a broader picture that I think is more accessible everytime we do something that is nonfiction I say. Hey remember for good or for bad this is this is going to be on a library shelf. You know. There is going to be assigned assigned viewing for high schoolers. And stuff like that so we need to get that right. I book you loved the First Book I loved. I started reading for real in when I was in fifth grade. The first book I read for Real was the hobbit right. Okay fine and Dandy. Here's the bad news right. After that. I took up the first of the ring trilogy. I got about forty pages and I said I got this I get it I get it okay. FRODO KROTO BILBO got it I I. I'm on good but I started writing. This kind of I started reading this kind of like I read. I read the works of Leon on your S. You know a meal eighteen armageddon. I will tell you the first book that that blew the back off of my head that affected me like great literature and art does. Does I read in high school. I'm going to say when I was fifteen maybe I read in cold blood by Truman capote and that that established benchmarks what was horrifying ten times. More horrifying about it was that really happened and that law sleep over over reading that book that that's how I would say. That was the first book that affected me. The way books can do you have advice. perspiring writers the first of all. No why would you come to me. I mean you know the this is the best advice I've ever heard about writing and I get it all the time because somebody has written a screen play that they have invested in a lot. I poured my heart and soul into this. This this is so important to me. I have never worked harder on a screenplay than I have on this and I say great go right another one and I think that's the only advice you could really give to any writer. Great got it. You did it fantastic. Go right another one go right something else. Keep writing never stopped writing right right right there you go so good luck the time for one last question and I'm getting to it but I would like to say that a shocking amount of these are requests for hugs. Just go like this ready. Kaput your arms out wide feels good. It will grant one hug but only one hug right at the end. Bring that baby down here so I can. We're done if the baby is still here. Just come down to the ET al.. Well I got to see this kid. Okay so one last question and perhaps the best note to end on is We write another book. Wow Okay yes when thank you. That's very kind of you well. That's the dilemma in it. You know I have. I have met some really like ridiculously famous and accomplished musicians. Who have made some of the greatest records of all time and this thing happens when they release a record that they have essentially? I've been compiling for all of their life and then six months later they have to do another one but that record is going to be based on things they've been compiling for the last six six months so it ends up being difficult. I I have a great relationship with the folks at Penguin My editor Peter who is just one of the greatest guy in the world he has. You said you. What are you going to write next and a I said look I have some things around and I'm not absolutely sure other Dan? I will write something again. I can't imagine living without it. Great Tom. Hanks thank you. Brad Pitt downhill the Tom. Hanks conversation with GRUEL SAGO Portland Book Festival in two thousand eighteen the Portland Book Festival. Twenty nineteen lineup has just been announced. The festival festival will take place on November ninth in downtown Portland for more information about the lineup schedule and tickets visit Literate Dash Arts Dot Org. This is Ben Literary Arts the Archive Project it's a retrospective of some of the most engaging talks from the world's best writers for more than thirty five years of Literary Arts and Portland. Join US next. It's time for the Archive Project Literary Arts Production in collaboration with Oregon public broadcasting to hear more from the archive project. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts support for the Archive Project comes from Cole. Haan the fashion brand that aims to inspire and empower people to live an extraordinary life. All this and more at Cole. Haan Dot Com. Our show is produced by crystal gory for radio and podcast special. Thanks to the Literary Arts Staff Board and community the show would not be possible without them. Thanks also the band emancipator for our theme music and thanks to all of you for listening. I'm Andrew Procter and this has been another edition of the archive project from Literary Arts. Join US next time and.

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