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Smash Hardcover – November 7, 1980

3.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 522 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult (November 7, 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670148032
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670148035
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 20 x 20 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,671,374 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Wayne M. Malin on February 8, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Fictional story told by Midge who gets the job as a production secretary for a big musical show. Through her we meet Larry the director (fighting for control of the show), Art the producer (a REAL jerk who will do anything to get what he wants--ANYTHING), the Star (she thinks it's all about her), Jenny the choreographer (alcoholic), Hy the composer (high strung) and many others. The book moves quick. There's back stabbing, sex, drug abuse, love, hate...just about everything. Author Kanin writes beautifully--the dialogue is quick, to the point and frequently hilarious...but you can have too much of a good thing. The book runs 502 pages--far too long. Also everybody speaks quickly and uses clever witty asides--even Art who's supposed to be a real jerk! Everyone sounds alike so you have trouble telling who's who. It's good and worth reading once--but too long and too one note.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The TV show "Smash" is apparently based on this book and while they both deal with putting a show up on Broadway and are both pretty soapy in terms of storytelling devices, the similarities end there. For one thing, the book was written in the late 70s and the Broadway scene has changed quite a bit in the intervening 30+ years. In the book, almost the entire production staff is male, the Star is there from the beginning and is a Broadway star (think Patti Lupone or Bernadette Peters), and the drug of choice is cocaine. Also, the musical is about the real life woman who wrote "Shine On, Harvest Moon" and "Take Me Out to the Ballgame". She apparently got her start playing the piano in the lobby of a high class Chicago brothel between "dates". Kanin writes the story from the point of view of the new Production Secretary, a young woman, and I have to say, the sex scenes and the passages of yearning for the object of her desire are a bit clunky. Still, it's an interesting page turner but not one of Mr. Kanin's best.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've liked this book since it first came out, when I was actually working on Broadway shows. (Don't get too impressed, I was a ticket clerk, an usher, a stage doorman, etc. but I did see enough behind the scenes to know there are stories to be told) I even remember trying to get word to the guys who eventually produced the TV show that they should do something with this book. But the show they did is NOT what I had in mind. Between the two, to me, the show is the disappointment. There is a lot to like in it, but only a handful of slight incidental details from the book (Like the idea of using social media as interstitial material between scenes of a show was in the book as using newspapers headlines for the same purpose). They basically just bought the name. It's like buying the rights to GONE WITH THE WIND then making a movie set in present day Atlanta with all new plot and characters...

The book is geographically accurate to the places it's set in - both inside and out. It mentions real theatres and sets the actions according to their actual layout and relation to each other. The show takes great liberties with that. The book has some interesting and great characters that are based on real people in real situations the author encountered in his real experiences with at least one Broadway show. You can read the book and figure out who is based on who if you know some things about the stage version of FUNNY GIRL. Not everything is a direct parallel, but there are certainly enough interesting characters and situations to tell a good story. The book is great if judged on its own merits and not in comparison to a nice show it has very little in common with.

Read this book if you like the premise: behind the scenes of a Broadway show circa 1960-1980.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
how a Broadway show was put together. Seeing this book mentioned as the basis for the tv series I decided to read it and I found it very interesting. It's amazing that some shows actually make it to Broadway. This was a fun read.
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Besides being about the cast of a show that's in rehearsal, there's no similarity between this book and the TV show SMASH. This book is boooorrrring. I bought it because I saw in the TV show's credits that the show was based on it. I was expecting something as lively, even though it's a different genre. Not even close.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Then this is for you. It's fun, crazy, soapy, and packed full of real-life details about casting, scoring, rehearsing, writing and taking a show on the road for previews. It's also over-the-top fun.

If you're looking for a book that resembles that terrible guilty-pleasure TV show with the same title, this might not be for you.

Kanin knows his theater, what it takes to get a show mounted, and has lots of thinly-disguised fun with Broadway stars of the era. There's a certain amount of raunch, like there is in theater, but you'll get a better idea of what large-scale musical theater is like from this book than from, well, that second-rate TV show.

YMMV but this is a fun read.
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"Smash" is a favorite book of mine by Garson Kanin. I figuratively devoured this when is came out in the early 80's. Back then I was a theatre person who had taken two consecutive trips to Broadway over Christmas and did nothing more than see two shows per day, and hang out with other theatre types and actors after their shows, etc. What little behind the scenes taste I had of real Broadway was certainly filled out through this wonderful novel.
Even more than the plot lines, I loved the look at what happens to a show during out of town tryouts, and the reason why specialty numbers are added, deleted or changed. This book, with its back stage realism could only be written by Garson Kanin, and I hope more of his books are re-released!
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