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Lillian and Dash Paperback – July 16, 2013
Intrusion: A Novel
A loving couple, grieving the loss of their son, finds their marriage in free fall when a beautiful, long-lost acquaintance inserts herself into their lives. Learn More
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"This is a novel that reimagines their relationship...with a strong dose of Golden Age romanticism."—LA Times
"It's a light, absorbing summer read, entertaining without being hokey."—Wall Street Journal
“I never knew how love like this worked, the kind that jumps the tracks but just keeps barreling onward...'til Sam Toperoff yanked me aboard, sat me next to Dash and Lill and took us hurtling through Hollywood, down Broadway, across two wars, a political witch hunt and mid-20th-century America, spellbound and hell-bound for human truth.” —Gary Smith, writer, Sports Illustrated
“[A] wonderful tale, graphic and true as it imagines the reality surrounding Hellman’s and Hammett’s extraordinary lives. You’ll love it and learn from it.”—Paul Newlin, author of It Had to Be a Woman and Reaching for September
“I have been reading Sam Toperoff's fiction for decades. He is a wonderful writer, shamefully underappreciated….Fascinating and engrossing, one of those rare books that would help you through an airplane flight without insulting your intelligence. In a word, it's literature. It also happens to be dark and sexy and, I would think, ripe for the movies.”—Tracy Kidder, author of Mountains beyond Mountains and winner of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award for nonfiction
"Toperoff captures time and place and most importantly two vital people. It is not easy to write about writers, but with energy and wit and skill, Toperoff brings Hellman and Hammett’s talent and pain directly into the present.”—George Vecsey, former sports columnist, New York Times
“Over the years, Toperoff has been a master at blending fact and fiction...and in this book his handling of the Hammett/Hellman relationship and the Hollywood of their time is exemplary and brilliant. He has a great ear for their speech, and Toperoff delivers the historical period with not only credibility, but insight as well. And of course it's a book about writers and writing, and thus the relationships between ego and talent, success and the lure of self-destruction.”—Stephen Dunn, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in poetry
"Much has been written about these two writers, playwrights, political activists, drunks and lovers, but nothing better than this novel. Toperoff does not pretend to be an earwitness to every private conversation, bit of pillow talk or fight; instead, he weaves a great story out of the public evidence that swirled around both parties."—Shelf Awareness
"A powerful homage to American literary arts and the personal struggles of Hellman and Hammett. Their little-known story shines here with unabashed brilliance."—Library Journal
"Toperoff presents a clear-eyed view of celebrity along with the major political and military events that bring about profound change in America and beyond."—Historical Novel Society
"[Lillian & Dash] is an excellent novel. Toperoff blends literary gossip, hard facts, and fiction seamlessly and comes up with a book that is both fun and deep."—Washington Independent Review of Books
"[A] wonderful read for anyone interested in the entertainment industry, recent history, or illicit romance." —Jewish Book Council
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Hammett and Hellman were both writers in the 1930's til their deaths thirty years or so later. Their styles of writing were different - Hammett wrote those "tough guy" mysteries as well as the Nick and Nora Charles "Thin Man" series. Hellman's work was more overtly political and "personal". Both were active in leftist-leaning political organizations and Hellman was a member of the Communist Party for a couple of years and also traveled to Spain during the Civil War to write about it. All this political activity came back to haunt the duo during the years of the HUAC. Were they "communists" and traitors to our country? Hell, half of Hollywood did the same things Hellman and Hammett did during those years.
Toperoff does an excellent job at the couple's public life, but he really excels at writing about Lillian and Dash as lovers and friends and the emotional supports they were of each other. Not that Dashiel Hammett could freely utter the words "I love you" and other endearments to his lover. He was emotionally stunted and frequently drunk. The two had a devotion that seemed to override those issues.
All in all, Sam Toperoff's written a delicious novel. Brawny and intelligent, sort of like the couple he's writing about.
I suspect that more people are familiar with Dashell Hammett than they are Lillian Hellman, after all, Hammett arguably created the modern detective-noir style with the creation of Sam Spade and the renown Maltese Falcon and his iconic "Thin Man" scripts for the movies. Hellman, meanwhile, earned her stripes writing innovative New York plays during the same period. She also later aided in the war effort with significant documentaries while Hammett essentially avoided writing anything significant by joining the army despite an advanced age and having traces of previous bouts of TB.
Toperoff's fictional tale provides an interesting "what if" assessment of Hammett and Hellman's decades-long love affair with suggestions that they could live neither with, or without one another. While unraveling this arrangement, Toperoff presents us with interesting insight into Hollywood events and personages during their lifetimes as well as an acceptable perspective into how each supported and influenced the others' writing.
I really enjoyed this book finding the writing, timeline and format easy and enjoyable to read. Those interested in either Hammett or Hellman will find interesting facts and insight into the lives of two writing legends.
At the heart of the novel is the relationship between the two main characters, Lillian Hellman and Dashiell Hammett. The novel hinges on these two interacting with each other (whether they are in the same room or not). Lillian's the woman I sound like in my head, or in the fantasies I have of myself. She's fascinating, energetic, bold, and so smart. Hammett sounds like a guy from the 1940s: macho, self involved, and overly confident. But these negative qualities are balanced by sensitive, observant, idealistic traits, and though I want to dislike him altogether, I can't.
The novel seems effortlessly written (but it probably wasn't). Toperoff manages to give voice to the characters and descriptions with skill and ease. He goes back and forth between Hellman and Hammett without confusing the two. The dialogue is especially good. Toperoff's done a great job of capturing the world and lives of these two figures.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fascinating tale of two great writers! Told from both of their viewpoints. Now I want to go back and read their books. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Barbara Liptak
You could see the story as it unfolds from the points of view of Dash and Lily.Published 14 months ago by Mary P. Rahill
Easy to read. They make wonderful, colorful subjects who led lives we can only fantasize.
I loved the southern references since I'm from New Orleans.
Lillian and Dash by Sam Toperoff.
I started reading listening to this biography(?) on CD expecting to hear of a long ago romantic relationship between two very talented... Read more
Because I could never find any evidence for the Jerry Waxman murder; Hammett's speech to the House Un-American Activities Committe; or Hellman's incident at Harrod's -- it made the... Read morePublished on April 22, 2014 by Lynne
Because I could never find any evidence for the Jerry Waxman murder; Hammett's speech to the House Un-American Activities Committe; or Hellman's incident at Harrod's -- it made the... Read morePublished on April 22, 2014 by Jessica
I happen to really love these two characters but this book seemed rather superficial, although I liked it somewhat. just not as insightful or interesting as I thought it would be.Published on December 8, 2013 by Jan R. Schulman