Steinbeckathon 2012: Tortilla Flat

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Steinbeckathon 2012: Tortilla Flat

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1wookiebender
Edited: Oct 5, 2012, 7:30 pm



This is the story of Danny and of Danny's friends and of Danny's house. It is the story of how these three became one thing, so that in Tortilla Flat if you speak of Danny's house you do not mean a structure of wood flaked with old whitewash, overgrown with an ancient untrimmed rose of Castile. No, when you speak of Danny's house you are understood to mean a unit of which the parts are men, from which came sweetness and joy, philanthropy and, in the end, a mystic sorrow. For Danny's house was not unlike the Round Table, and Danny's friends were not unlike the knights of it.

Back back-of-book-blurb says: Steinbeck's first major critical and commercial success, Tortilla Flat is also his funniest novel.

I'm Tania, and I'm (belatedly) hosting this month's Steinbeckathon read! I hope you all enjoy it, I'm looking forward to it. And thanks to smiler69 for setting up the Steinbeckathon in the first place.

Steinbeckathon Main Thread: http://www.librarything.com/topic/130105#

2avidmom
Oct 5, 2012, 7:35 pm

A little less than half-way into it myself and it is funny. A nice change from In Dubious Battle.

3EBT1002
Oct 5, 2012, 7:52 pm

I have this one on hold at the library and plan to "rejoin" the Steinbeckathon!!

4wookiebender
Oct 5, 2012, 10:25 pm

I picked up my copy from the bookshop last night, but am in the middle of a dense bookgroup read, so I'm not sure when I'm going to start this one! (Plus I do mean to get to Mark's group read of 1Q84 as well this month. Eep.) Maybe I'll read this one at bedtime as the bookgroup read isn't a great bedtime book!

5Carmenere
Oct 5, 2012, 10:32 pm

Thanks for starting up this thread, Tania. I have borrowed this book from the library but probably will not begin it until the third week of October.

6Deern
Oct 6, 2012, 12:31 am

I already finished it, read it in one go. I am looking forward to the discussion here, as it is so different from the other books and at the same time has so many parallels to one book we read already (trying not to write any spoilers yet). I liked it very much!

7Smiler69
Oct 6, 2012, 10:52 pm

Great job on putting together this thread Tania, thank you so much! I'll be reading this one later in the month, but look forward to what people will have to say about this book.

8EBT1002
Oct 7, 2012, 12:27 am

Tortilla Flat is waiting for me to pick it up at the library tomorrow. :-)

9klobrien2
Oct 7, 2012, 9:05 am

I didn't finish In Dubious Battle last month and in a way, I'm glad! It should be interesting to read both that book and Tortilla Flat in close proximity and "compare and contrast," as the classic essay test question goes.

Karen O.

10Crazymamie
Oct 7, 2012, 12:33 pm

My copy is packed, so I will get to it when I open the correct box once we get to Georgia. Luckily, I did think to label the box "Steinbeck" so I could find it quickly. Thanks for setting up the thread and for hosting,Tania!

11wookiebender
Oct 7, 2012, 11:08 pm

No worries, all. Nice to see everyone on board! My bookgroup read is going slowly, but I have today off work (Monday here downunder) so am hoping to make some serious headway into it, and then I can get into Tortilla Flat. (And then 1Q84.)

12laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Oct 8, 2012, 10:42 am

I read Tortilla Flat (and most of Steinbeck's short novels) in a spree when I was a teenager. I think I'd really like to revisit this one with the group. So I may put it at the top of the pile for next week. I should have finished my current read in a couple days.

13EBT1002
Edited: Oct 9, 2012, 11:26 pm

I'm thinking that I will see if I can once again multi-read.
I'm getting into Chocolat now; seems like a good pairing with Tortilla Flats, yes?

14avidmom
Edited: Oct 9, 2012, 11:50 pm

Sounds good to me. Then again, chocolate ALWAYS sounds good to me!!!!!
I finished Tortilla Flat. I'm wondering what everyone thinks (or will think) of the ending.

15jnwelch
Oct 10, 2012, 2:37 pm

Oh my, I forgot this was Tortilla Flat month. I'll pick it up after I finish my current read!

16wookiebender
Oct 14, 2012, 5:38 pm

I'm reading it very slowly - was being acting manager as my manager was away for two weeks, and it killed my reading ability! - maybe about 1/3 of the way through now.

I'm at work now, but there was a great line I read this morning on the bus, about fat ladies "in whose eyes lay the weariness and the wisdom one sees in pigs" (I may be misquoting!) being driven in overpowered cars to partake of gin fizzes. Loved it.

17EBT1002
Oct 16, 2012, 1:25 am

Getting ready to start into this next Steinbeck.

18PersephonesLibrary
Oct 20, 2012, 4:28 pm

I just finished Tortilla Flat and I like it very much. But before I start discussing it I will let it rest and sink in for a while.

#16: Tania, I had to laugh, when I read that line. :)
Here's another jewel I loved: They found one another's eyes and smiled the wise smiles of the deathless and hopeless ones.

19EBT1002
Oct 20, 2012, 9:23 pm

Did I mention that I completed the novel and gave it four stars? Now I need to read up on the Arthurian legends. Recommendations?

20calm
Oct 21, 2012, 5:26 am

I've just finished Tortilla Flat - I don't think it is Steinbeck's best novel but there were some great moments and descriptive passages.

I liked this one:

The wind rose as they walked, and drove the fog across the pale moon like a thin wash of grey water-colour. The moving fog gave shifting form to the forest, so that every tree crept stealthily along and the bushes moved soundlessly, like great dark cats. The tree-tops in the wind talked huskily, told fortunes and foretold deaths.

My copy also had an introduction by Steinbeck's wife, Elaine, which was about the places he wrote which was very interesting. I didn't know that he had moved away from California and was mainly writing in New York.

21wookiebender
Oct 24, 2012, 5:50 am

Hello all! I finished Tortilla Flat a few days ago, and enjoyed it too.

#19> Have you tried Steinbeck's own retelling of the Arthurian legends, The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights? I read it many years ago, and enjoyed it, I think the second half more than the first. (The first was just a retelling of Malory, so I wasn't so impressed, but the second half was more Steinbeckian. So I seem to remember, although it was many, many years ago now!)

22Carmenere
Oct 25, 2012, 7:18 am

I still have not begun TF. Looks as if it will be coming into November with me.
Glad to see the ratings are fairly high.

23klobrien2
Oct 30, 2012, 4:44 pm

Finished up Tortilla Flat this morning. I really enjoyed this book: it's involving, very funny at times, and Steinbeck is back with his excellent descriptive powers. He can describe a particular time of day, or a landscape, so you will know exactly what he's talking about. And you'll smell the trees, or the "rose of Castile" (that was a repeated motif in this book), or the canning factory, or whatever.

Karen O.

24Carmenere
Nov 1, 2012, 8:10 am

I'll be reading TF in November along with the two scheduled November Steinbecks. Somehow, October just flew by me.

25klobrien2
Nov 1, 2012, 3:47 pm

I'm trying (one more time) to finish the September read (In Dubious Battle), so I hear you!

Karen O.

26Deern
Nov 2, 2012, 2:41 am

The last two books both felt for me like exercises for later works, less subtle and a bit rough. I wouldn't have got the Arthur analogies at all here if wikipedia hadn't told me about them.

For me it felt much more like a first and very rough version of Cannery Row, all focused on the boys.
I enjoyed it a lot, although I would have preferred a different ending.

27Carmenere
Edited: Nov 9, 2012, 7:21 am

I was able to grab an audio version of TF which I've just about finished. I tried reading this book a thousand years ago but ditched it because I didn't get it. This time around, I'm enjoying it more and I think that is because we met some of these characters in Cannery Row and I understand it more, even finding much humor in it.

28Carmenere
Nov 12, 2012, 6:53 am

Tortilla Flat - Finished :0)