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Comment: A well-cared-for item that has seen limited use but remains in great condition. The item is complete, unmarked, and undamaged, but may show some limited signs of wear. Item works perfectly. Pages and dust cover are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine is undamaged.
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Lillian and Dash Paperback – July 16, 2013

4.4 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“There is a sentence in Lillian & Dash that, in part, reads, "Cruelty was in fact precisely what made the erotic obscene." There is a lot packed in those ten words. What's more, they explain exactly why anything Sam Toperoff writes, I will read.”—Cal Fussman, writer at large, Esquire
 
"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

Sam Toperoff has published twelve books of fiction and nonfiction including Jimmy Dean Prepares (Granta, 1998) and Queen of Desire (Harper Collins, 1992), and his stories and articles have appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, Granta, New York Times Magazine, Town & Country, and Sports Illustrated. He lives in France, in a house he built.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Other Press (July 16, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590515684
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590515686
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,391,385 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Reading a good bio of the pair may be the better course to learn about 2 talented fascinating lovers at an eventful time in world and US history, but imagined dialogue set to fact is a close second. Hellman's loquacity about her life with Hammett makes for easy research but Hammett's reticence makes the fictionalized account more Dash than Lill and is the better for it. Lillian took her talent and with his support and editing, ran with it. He wasted, or disrespected, his own genius in favor of drink and dissolute lifestyle. But it's a beautiful love story between the elegant and beautiful and principled Dash and the homely but brilliant and compelling Lillian, and in their best writing, they could not have invented better characters than themselves or a narrative more dramatic than their own.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Having first known Toperoff through his work with PBS ( I am a real Visions show fan). I was excited to see that his newest book was on the legendary writer Dashiell Hammett (creator of Sam Spade, The Thin Man, the Maltese Falcon et al) and playwright Lillian Hellman. The book grabbed me from the very beginning, where Toperoff describes their meeting and only let me go at the incredible end. The author's depth of feeling and compassion for his characters is strongly evident and the book is riveting. Highly recommended
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Okay, I normally don't like these novels about a public figure's private lives or loves. Or about the sister or the mistress of said public figure. I find the speculation about Sigmund Freud's possible other uses for his couch a bit "unseemly". I'd rather stick to fiction about fictional characters. However, all those thoughts were tossed after reading Sam Toperoff's compelling fictional look at the intertwined lovers, Lillian Hellman and Dashiel Hamett.

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.
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Format: Paperback
Today, Dash and Lillian likely mean little to the modern literary set. But in their days (1920s-50s particularly), they were both synonymous with the best of fictional and theatrical writing.

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.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book was the selection for the month of August for a book club I am in. I do not like fiction about real and famous people as a rule. However this book was the exception. It was a compelling story about two really great people. It rang true throughout. I am in my late seventies and lived through the McCarty era witch hunts in the early fifties. What it tells you about history is that nothing much changes.
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Format: Paperback
Lillian and Dash is an excellent novel. One way to describe it is that it's very American...vernacular, motion pictures, detective stories, atmosphere, music, style, broadway, politics, etc. It's got that bravado, if you know what I mean. I love stories that can catch and sustain that type of American spirit.

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.

Highly recommended!
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