Posts Tagged Sam Toperoff
STEELE Picks: 20 Best Books of 2013
Posted by Amy Steele in Books on December 30, 2013
1. The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud [Knopf]
–a brilliant novel about anything but that typical woman upstairs. It’s about aspirations present and past, realized and forsaken.
2. The Revolution of Every Day by Cari Luna [Tin House Books]
–an intense book about squatting, community and political activism in the 90s
3. Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi [Penguin]
–a beautifully written book. haunting and lyrical. family, race, country, belonging.
4. Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward [Bloomsbury]
–this memoir. raw. upsetting. the author mediates on the poverty in Louisiana and the black men she lost in its depths.
5. Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat [Knopf]
–another novel in which I’m in awe of the writing style. gorgeous mystical tale about Haiti.
6. FEVER by Mary Beth Keane [Scribner]
-wondrous historical fiction about “Typhoid Mary.” fascinatingly imagined.
7. The Inbetween People by Emma McEvoy [The Permanent Press]
–stunning, powerful novel. Avi Goldberg writes from military prison because he refuses to serve in the Israeli Defense Forces [IDF]. He writes about his friend Saleem, an Israeli Arab he met. Their lives intertwine despite cultural differences and past troubles.
8. In the Body of the World by Eve Ensler [Metropolitan]
–not only a memoir about Ensler’s personal journey with cancer but it’s a call to community, to get involved. so powerful I cried when I finished reading it.
9. The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan [ECCO]
–sweeping story about mothers and daughters set in turn-of-the-century Shanghai
10. Harvard Square by Andre Aciman [W.W. Norton]
–melancholic, nostalgic autobiographical novel about belonging and assimilation that focuses on immigrants finding their place in America in the 70s.
11. Sister Mother Husband Dog (etc.) by Delia Ephron [Blue Rider]
–the this essay collection, Delia tackles the profound to the superficial with wit, perception and charm. She maintains a steady wisdom-filled tone. She’s a woman who’s experienced plenty and shares mistakes, some secrets and reflects upon life-lessons with those willing to listen.
12. Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell [Knopf]
–This collection of stories transports you to places you never imagined going to. Russell writes stories about variations on monsters. Beautiful, peculiar, unusual and tragic monsters. She creates bizarre, macabre and funny settings. Complete with vivid imagery, creepiness and potent emotions without an excess of verbiage. She writes dark, funny and tender.
13. Freud’s Mistress by Jennifer Kaufman and Karen Mack [Amy Einhorn]
–long rumored to have had an affair with his wife’s sister, Kaufman and Mack vividly imagine this sister’s character and life with the Freuds.
14. Montana by Gwen Florio [The Permanent Press]
–MONTANA drew me in immediately with its stellar page-turning plot, terrific characters and stunning descriptions of Montana scenery. Also Lola’s an independent feminist journalist determined to uncover the truth at any cost.
15. Dirty Love by Andre Dubus III [WW Norton]– author interview
–one of my all-time favorite authors writes vignettes about love, sex, relationships and the gritty, sticky, messy aftermath.
16. Lillian and Dash by Sam Toperoff [Other Press]
–What a charming novel that delves into the long affair between playwright Lillian Hellman [Little Foxes, The Children’s Hour] and noir author and screenwriter Dashiell Hammett [The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man].
17. Big Brother by Lionel Shriver [Harper Collins]
–Lionel Shriver expresses so many thoughts about obesity epidemic, how we indulge, how food is a treat, a central focus for holidays, outings, dates, meetings etc. Dazzling writing, vocabulary and character creation up until the ending.
18. Together Tea by Marjan Kamali [ECCO]– author interview
–insight into the immigrant experience. Humor, love, respect and mother-daughter bonding make this a book you’ll long remember after finishing the last page. It’s a love story to Persia as well as an acceptance for the United States.
19. The Hypothetical Girl by Elizabeth Cohen [Other Press]– author interview
–in this astute story collection, Elizabeth Cohen writes about dating in the digital age.
20. Nothing Serious by Daniel Klein [The Permanent Press]
–brilliant meditation on print media and its changing format and relevance.
Lillian & Dash: book review
Posted by Amy Steele in Books on September 17, 2013
Lillian & Dash by Sam Toperoff. Publisher: Other Press (2013). Historical Fiction. Softcover. 385 pages. ISBN 978-159051568-6.
“That bond, however it is presented and whatever it is called, endured for three decades, contorted, stretched, and strained but unbroken by distance, professional jealousy, countless flings and more serious affairs by each, pathetic need, insult, drink, recrimination, and disappointment.”
What a charming novel that delves into the long affair between playwright Lillian Hellman [Little Foxes, The Children’s Hour] and noir author and screenwriter Dashiell Hammett [The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man]. Theirs was a complicated relationship as Dashiell remained married [and had several children] while Lillian never married. As both writers lived well before my time, I’m only familiar with their work. I’d seen and truly appreciated Hellman’s Little Foxes and The Children’s Hour but knew nothing about her personal life. Of course I’d seen The Maltese Falcon and I’d heard of the popularity of The Thin Man novels and film series but I’ve yet to see them but will at some time. As with Hellman, I knew little to nothing about Hammett.
Author Sam Toperoff makes you feel as if you’re drawn into the midst of a black and white film or at a party with Lillian and Dash. Lillian Hellman– independent, successful, driven – so much so that Dashiell became immensely jealous of her and that drove a wedge between them at various times but they kept coming back to each other. Although she did fine on her own and had plenty of other affairs, Lillian loved something about Dashiell despite his drunkenness, instability and unreliability in later years. The more I read about Lillian, the more interested I became in her writing and her life and the more I wanted to read about her and the less about her relationship with the drunken Dashiell. He just seemed to be a hanger-on, a nuisance. Perhaps when they were younger he had a certain charm or enticing quality but it didn’t stand out in this novel. He never seemed happy for her successes. There’s a plethora of details about their projects, behind the scenes in Hollywood and some political incidents including the Spanish War and McCarthyism. ]. The manner in which Toperoff crafts this novel swept me right up into their Hollywood romance. It’s a treat for those fascinated by Old Hollywood and classic films.
–review by Amy Steele
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from the Other Press.
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