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Tortilla Flat (1935)

by John Steinbeck

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5,678921,803 (3.77)1 / 296
In the shabby district called Tortilla Flat above Monterey, California lives a gang whose exploits compare to those of King Arthur's knights.

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English (77)  French (3)  Dutch (2)  Italian (2)  Spanish (2)  Finnish (2)  Norwegian (2)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (91)
Showing 1-5 of 77 (next | show all)
I don't know what stories I was expecting in this book, but it wasn't what I found. Engaging, surprising, uncomfortable, funny. ( )
  Glorgana | Dec 27, 2023 |
My first Steinbeck. A gift from a friend with very heavy-drinking parents, now passed; the inscription from his father to his mother is on the flyleaf. I am a drinking men from a long line of them myself. And there is some heavy drinking herein, as a way of life. The prose is wonderful. The stories are episodic without much in the way of overarching narrative. Heavily influenced by the the Grail mythos, which I also happen to be interested in, and am learning of its profound importance to Western culture. But what to make to this? This uses wonderful prose, borrows expertly from a magnificent mythic inheritance, and uses it to describe a bunch of primitive and criminal savages incapable of making anything, building anything, raising a family, or forming any kind of society. They cannot really be said to have an honour code save the honour of a bandit gang. One character does display true morality as kind of a retarded naif, his kindness shows through in his fondness to dogs and religious faith. The others? Pah. It is also laugh out loud funny in places, given the elaborate intellectual structures its protagonists erect to justify their continuing alcoholism. But I can't see the people herein as noble or good. They are humerous grotesques. The book works on that level. It almost, in places, convinces you that you shouldn't judge them and that they are worthy peasant stock. But overall that idea is laughable. If Steinbeck intended them as such he must be well off-kilter - either a nihilist or a moron. Will find out when I read his other books, I suppose. Despite its qualities the book gives the impression of a literary degeneracy. ( )
  Quickpint | Dec 15, 2023 |
This episodic paean to the paisanos living rough on the outskirts of Montery, does not glorify their life, but handles it with the tongs of humor and humanity. We are roused to sympathy with the unsympathetic, those who conspire with life running them over and leaving them by the way. ( )
  quondame | Nov 23, 2023 |
This is awful! I can't stand the circular stories, redundancies, and lack of movement forward. I am abandoning. ( )
  Kimberlyhi | Apr 15, 2023 |
A group of deadbeat friends while away the time, drinking cheap stolen wine, getting by by stealing what they need. But friendship kindles kindness, charity (even if stolen), and even a day of honest work when friendship requires it. The humor is not obvious until near the end but it’s thruout in small doses. Not great but a good book. I’ll definitely read more Steinbeck now that I’ve been introduced to him by this book. ( )
  KarenMonsen | Mar 14, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 77 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (23 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Steinbeckprimary authorall editionscalculated
Barbey, Brigitte V.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bovenkamp, J.G.H. van denTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fensch, ThomasIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fensch, Thomas C.Introductionsecondary 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.
Big Joe stole Mrs. Palochico's goat over and over again, and each time it went home.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

In the shabby district called Tortilla Flat above Monterey, California lives a gang whose exploits compare to those of King Arthur's knights.

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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.
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Average: (3.77)
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