Actor Tom Hanks publishes short story in small magazine with only 12,000 subscribers

Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks (above) is inspired by his passion for typewriters.
Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks (above) is inspired by his passion for typewriters.PHOTO: NYTIMES

Actor-turned-author Tom Hanks will release his first collection of short stories in One Story, which has only 12,000 subscribers

BOSTON • This is a happy story about a very big author and a very tiny magazine.

The author you know: He is Tom Hanks, the Academy Award-winning actor, whose films such as Saving Private Ryan (1998) and Bridge Of Spies (2015) have grossed more than US$9 billion (S$12 billion).

The magazine you probably do not know: It is called One Story, a Brooklyn-based non-profit entity with 12,000 subscribers.

How these two got connected is a curious tale of serendipity.

This week, Hanks, 61, will release his first collection of short stories, called Uncommon Type, inspired by his passion for typewriters.

With blurbs from comedian Steve Martin, actress-writer Mindy Kaling and actor-writer Stephen Fry, the collection is likely to be an instant bestseller.

In 2014, one of these stories appeared in The New Yorker.

I hoped that the Hanks story would be a boost for them, but I also know that One Story readers would love to get such a great story in their mailboxes. It was a perfect storm.

AUTHOR ANN PATCHETT on why she wanted to have one of Tom Hanks' short stories featured in One Story, a literary magazine

You might expect that prestigious magazine - or Vanity Fair or Entertainment Weekly - to print another of Hanks' stories as the publication date rolls around for his full collection. But no.

Instead, in the days leading to the release of Uncommon Type, you will find one of Hanks' stories only in One Story magazine: Issue No. 232 - A Month On Greene Street.

In the publishing world, this is a very uncommon type of good luck.

It came about because of a man in Ann Patchett's basement.

Patchett is the beloved author of seven novels, including Bel Canto and Commonwealth.

For about 20 years, she has been friends with Patrick Ryan, editor-in-chief of the unadorned little magazine One Story founded in 2002. In each diminutive issue, it publishes one story and just one story.

Each year, Ryan travels to Patchett's home in Nashville for what they call their private "writing camp".

"I stay in her basement, which is larger than my apartment in New York, and work on whatever book I'm working on," Ryan says.

"And she, two floors up, works on whatever book she's working on and we meet on the first floor for meals, moral support and to read aloud to each other."

When Ryan arrived at Patchett's house this year, she was raving about a collection of stories she had read by - of all people - Hanks.

Curious, Ryan also got hold of an early copy and was just as impressed.

He dreamt of publishing one of Hanks' stories in his little magazine, but that seemed like an impossible task.

In response to his first entreaty to publisher Penguin Random House, Ryan was told he was too small.

He pointed out that One Story had published works later included in The Best American Short Stories and The O. Henry Prize Stories.

He wooed. He pleaded.

This is where Patchett came in. She had recently agreed to write a blurb for Uncommon Type and fly to Washington to interview Hanks on Friday at the Warner Theatre.

Could she ask the publisher for a favour in return? How about a story for a certain magazine?

"I've been a huge One Story fan since I edited Best American Short Stories in 2006," she says.

"I hoped that the Hanks story would be a boost for them, but I also know that One Story readers would love to get such a great story in their mailboxes. It was a perfect storm.

"Everything about this deal, and everything about Uncommon Type, confirms my long-held suspicion that Tom Hanks is a good guy."

From the famous author's point of view, this long-winded tale of a little magazine getting a big break sounds different.

"It was a very difficult process," Hanks says. "First, One Story asked. I admire what they do, so I said yes."

The end.


•One Story is available at

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 16, 2017, with the headline 'Big author meets small magazine'. Print Edition | Subscribe