Lillian and Dash

Lillian and Dash

by Sam Toperoff
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

This exciting novel about Dashiell Hammett (The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man) and Lillian Hellman (The Children’s Hour) reintroduces their larger-than-life personalities and the vicissitudes of their affair that spanned three decades.
 
Toperoff reimagines the highs and lows of a fast-living, hard-drinking literary couple, and

Overview

This exciting novel about Dashiell Hammett (The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man) and Lillian Hellman (The Children’s Hour) reintroduces their larger-than-life personalities and the vicissitudes of their affair that spanned three decades.
 
Toperoff reimagines the highs and lows of a fast-living, hard-drinking literary couple, and their individual passions, projects, and literary creations. Hammett and Hellman’s relationship evolves during major artistic and political epochs—Hollywood’s heyday, the New York literary scene, the Spanish Civil War, McCarthyism, and both world wars—and each movement is captured with subjectivity and credible insight. Populated with writers, drinkers, filmmakers, and revolutionaries, Lillian and Dash chronicles the unusual affair of two prominent and headstrong figures.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“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

Library Journal
★ 
This lyrical historical novel imagines the inner life of the tempestuous relationship between American authors Dashiell Hammett (1894–1961) and Lillian Hellman (1905–84). Against the backdrop of 20th-century show business history, Toperoff (Jimmy Dean Prepares) skillfully interleaves their two shifting perspectives. Lillian's Broadway success and Hammett's literary fame brings them together in Hollywood in the 1930s. Married to other people, Dash and Lillian fill a need in each other that more traditional relationships cannot, as together they struggle through turbulent times in Hollywood and the world. Both are drawn to the cause of the Spanish Civil War and become involved in World War II: Hellman as a writer for the pro-Soviet propaganda movie Red Star and Hammett as a soldier at the age of 50. During the Cold War, both are called before the House Un-American Activities Committee and Hammett even ends up in jail. This novel shows how, despite intervening periods of strife, infidelity, insolvency, and alcoholism, Dash and Lillian relied on each other.

Verdict A powerful homage to American literary arts and the personal struggles of Hellman and Hammett. Their little-known story shines here with unabashed brilliance.—Henry Bankhead, Los Gatos Lib., CA
(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Reviews
A canny exploration of the long affair between writers Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961) and Lillian Hellman (1905-1984), which endured alcoholism, war and McCarthyism. Toperoff's earlier novels strived to drill into the psyches of Marilyn Monroe (Queen of Desire, 1992) and James Dean (Jimmy Dean Prepares, 1997), and the lives of Hammett and Hellman give him similarly rich fodder. When they met, Hammett had left behind family to pursue a career as a screenwriter, and Hellman was a rising playwright in a perfunctory marriage. The early chapters stumble as Toperoff strains to establish their individual backgrounds and voices, as if the novel will be an awkward oral history, but the tone soon settles, and the focus turns squarely on their affection for each other. The two were on different career trajectories when they met: Hammett's best work, like The Maltese Falcon, was behind him, while Hellman would gain celebrity with her 1934 play The Children's Hour. And they were separated often, as Hellman covered the Spanish Civil War and Hammett drank heavily and tinkered with scripts. Yet the two completed each other both romantically and editorially, and Toperoff captures the writers' interior anxieties well, as Hammett struggled with stark minimalist autobiographical sketches and Hellman absorbed brickbats from her critics. (Some of the book's sweetest scenes feature their back and forths over their latest writing projects.) The need to become each other's cheerleader becomes more pronounced in the later chapters, as the House Un-American Activities Committee comes after both of them; Hellman's petty harassment at the hands of U.S. and British authorities, and the ballooning sense of injustice that ensues, is particularly well-turned. Toperoff credits numerous biographies and collected letters, but the novel never feels like a studiously researched museum piece. Toperoff locates the private passions in an intense, public and ultimately tragic love story without indulging in glitz or melodrama.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781590515693
Publisher:
Other Press, LLC
Publication date:
07/16/2013
Sold by:
Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
778,818
File size:
2 MB

Meet 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.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >