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Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck

Tortilla Flat (original 1935; edition 1977)

by John Steinbeck

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4,161691,203 (3.81)1 / 264
Title:Tortilla Flat
Authors:John Steinbeck
Info:Penguin (Non-Classics) (1977), Edition: 2nd Printing, Mass Market Paperback, 224 pages
Collections:Your library

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Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck (1935)


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English (56)  French (3)  Norwegian (2)  Finnish (2)  Spanish (2)  Dutch (1)  Italian (1)  Hebrew (1)  All (68)
Showing 1-5 of 56 (next | show all)
Tortilla Flat is loosely drawn from the Arthurian Legend and features Danny as King Arthur and a group of his paisano friends as his court. As with the medieval legends, Danny and his friends are at times gallant, ornery, lazy, quirky, moody, foolish, and brilliant in their simple way. The characters are all lovable and comic even when they are doing horrible things that they shouldn't be loved for.

Likewise, the book itself was lovable and a joy to read even when there are parts that should have been uncomfortable. Steinbeck has a wonderful ability to take the grotesque sides of us and make them lovable. In this case, he took the poverty of people living on the outskirts of Monterey, California and all of the poor decisions and bad things that they might do in their circumstance and made them both heroic and comical. This is the brilliance of Steinbeck, and this is a very good book. ( )
1 vote fuzzy_patters | Jan 18, 2017 |
From what I'd read in other criticism and reviews, I expected to be more offended by the representations of Mexicans in this book. Not that there weren't caricatures of some offensive Mexican stereotypes, but the book is so clearly in the vein of satire and folk tales that it's hard to get worked up about. That said, this is early Steinbeck, and the writing doesn't have the compression and unity that make his later work so powerful. Still, there's some decent work here, and more than one good laugh. Ay, Piloncito and his trickster ways. ( )
  jalbacutler | Jan 10, 2017 |
After the Cannery Row, this seemed extremely unoriginal. It's best of all to read that one that this one too, the ending was somehow uplifting in that one, and this one's just depressing. The book was a lot more boring as well, but maybe just cause it seemed like a dumb copy of the other one. ( )
  avalinah | Sep 11, 2016 |
Tortilla Flat, by John Steinbeck (read 16 Aug 2016) This is the 8th book I've read by Steinbeck, I read his The Grapes of Wrath on 17 Mar 1949, and then read In Dubious Battle on 30 May 1971, Of Mice and Men on 22 Jan 1996, Cup of Gold on 22 June 197, The Red Pony on 6 June 2000, East of Eden on 21 Feb 2001, The Pearl on 16 March 2003, and Cannery Row on 19 June 2006. Tortilla Flat is smoothly written, tells evocatively of Danny, who returns from soldiering in World War One to find his grandfather has died and left hin two houses in the Tortilla Flat section of Monterey, Cal. His friends gradually move in with him and their carefrree l;ife, devoted to wine drinking and loose living is related with sympathetic words, often evoking laughter in the reader. I could not admire the lifestyle depicted but the account is somewhat heart-warming. ( )
1 vote Schmerguls | Aug 16, 2016 |
I don't recall when I first read Tortilla Flat but it must have been during my teen years. I didn't remember it as a favorite and never re-read it until now. There's a certain amount of charm to the cast of characters here, a ragtag group of layabout paisanos led by Danny who live in the hilly area above the town of Monterey. The manner of storytelling, with a mimicry of King Arthur's knights of the round table also adds a bit of charm. One can only listen to so many thees and thous however. My personal problem with the book is that I just can't identify with the drunken no-account lets steal the neighbors chickens, throw rocks through the windows on Alvarado street life, and the "charm" here wears thin. These guys would do anything but work. There are some interesting little vignettes and character sketches in here that pretty much save the story but I had my fill of drinking yourself into a stupor until the house burns down pretty early on.

In a sense I'm breaking my own rules on reading Steinbeck where I try not to put a late 20th/early 21st century sensibility on early 1930's life, but it is what it is. I'm pretty sure I felt this same way in the 60's or 70's when I first encountered this. These guys are serious alcoholics who drink gallons of wine and steal and slum their way for more wine or brandy.

Danny goes looney toons near the end and destroys his little paisano Camelot.

I listened to much of the story via an audiobook narrated by John McDonough. He does an excellent job reading this with a relaxed pace just about perfect for the story. It works well listened to in small chunks since it is an episodic story. I did a bit of spot reading/recapping as well as reading the last portion of the story from a physical paper book.

There are better Steinbeck stories than this one. ( )
  RBeffa | Jul 27, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (23 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Steinbeckprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bovenkamp, J.G.H. van denTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fensch, ThomasIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gannett, Ruth ChrismanIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McDonough, JohnNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prins, ApieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rotten, ElisabethTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vittorini, ElioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Susan Gregory of Monterey
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This is the story of Danny and of Danny's friends and of Danny's house. (Preface)
When Danny came home from the army he learned that he was an heir and an owner of property.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Adopting the structure and themes of the Arthurian legend, Steinbeck created a "Camelot" on a shabby hillside above the town of Monterey, California, and peopled it with a colorful band of knights. At the center of the tale is Danny, whose house, like Arthur's castle, becomes a gathering place for men looking for adventure, camaraderie, and a sense of belonging. These "knights" are paisanos, men of mixed heritage, whose ancestors settled California hundreds of years before. Free of ties to jobs and other complications of the American way of life, they fiercely resist the corrupting tide of honest toil in the surrounding ocean of civil rectitude.

As Steinbeck chronicles their deeds -- their multiple loves, their wonderful brawls, their Rabelaisian wine-drinking -- he spins a tale as compelling and ultimately as touched by sorrow as the famous legends of the Round Table, which inspired him.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140042407, Mass Market Paperback)

Adopting the structure and themes of the Arthurian legend, Steinbeck created a "Camelot" on a shabby hillside above Monterey on the California coast and peopled it with a colorful band of knights. As Steinbeck chronicles their thoughts and emotions, temptations and lusts, he spins a tale as compelling, and ultimately as touched by sorrow, as the famous legends of the Round Table.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:59 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

In the shabby district called Tortilla Flat above Monterey, California lives a group of jobless Hispanic men who, in complete disregard of social conventions and expectations, cheerfully reside in a world of idyllic poverty.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 6 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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