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Tortilla Flat

3.82  ·  Rating Details  ·  30,996 Ratings  ·  1,516 Reviews
"Steinbeck is an artist; and he tells the stories of these lovable thieves and adulterers with a gentle and poetic purity of heart and of prose." -- New York Herald Tribune

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
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published July 2001 by Longman Schools Division (a Pearson Education Company) (first published 1935)
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Amber I agree... Danny was an excellent protagonist. He was shrouded in mystery, yet I felt like I knew him all along.
East of Eden by John SteinbeckOf Mice and Men by John SteinbeckThe Grapes of Wrath by John SteinbeckCannery Row by John SteinbeckThe Pearl by John Steinbeck
John Steinbeck
6th out of 43 books — 171 voters
The Hobbit by J.R.R. TolkienGone with the Wind by Margaret MitchellBrave New World by Aldous HuxleyOf Mice and Men by John SteinbeckThe Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Best Books of the Decade: 1930s
90th out of 454 books — 757 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jul 23, 2007 Roddy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: literature
I learned from this book that I continue to love Steinbeck. I despise the idea that he (like hemmingway for that matter) is sometimes considered a "simple" writer. Here's my opinion: Using flowery prose to add weight and impart meaning on a vaporous story is not great literature. A substantive story, containing meaning and moral, simply told IS great literature. This is what I run into every time I read Steinbeck. Hemmingway too. Simple construction - departing every so often to show off that ye ...more
Much has been said about Steinbeck's apparent portrayal of Mexican Americans as lazy, amoral drunkards in Tortilla Flat. Some say Steinbeck was racist; some say he was just a product of his time. Which is right I do not know; Steinbeck may very well have been racist (he also uses "jew" as a slur and in several of his books uses unflattering stereotypes of Chinese people). I know nothing of the man's personal beliefs about race and it is a common fallacy to suppose an author always agrees with h ...more
Jason Koivu
Mar 12, 2016 Jason Koivu rated it really liked it
Tales of the tall variety about a silly gang of friends whose boy's club antics remind one at times of "The Three Stooges" or "Last of the Summer Wine" as they cast about in search of adventure and drink, spinning their own unbelievable yarns while getting drunk, and philosophizing with wild abandon - be damned the passing of the day! Hell, there's even Yogi Bear-ish picnic basket pinching scene!

Nonsense, it's all nonsense! Or is it? I seem to recall something quite profound was said somewhere
Robert J  Burdock
Briefly, Danny, the chief protagonist in this novel, returns from the war to Tortilla Flat (a paisano district that sits upon a hillside above Monterey), to find he has inherited two houses. What then follows is a comedic tale that fundamentally can be summed up in 5 words - wine, friendship, food, women and again :o)

This is the first John Steinbeck novel I've had the pleasure of reading, and quite simply it has left an indelible mark on me. What captivates me in the first instance is
Feb 18, 2013 Kim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook

Although it was initially rejected for publication on a number of occasions, this work – a short story cycle - was Steinbeck’s first real critical and commercial success,. He wrote it during 1933 and early 1934, when he was heavily involved in caring for his elderly parents, who were both were very ill. Steinbeck was inspired to write the book by a high school teacher friend, who was partly of Mexican descent. She had been studying the paisanos, poor people of mixed Mexican, Native American and
Joe Valdez
Sep 18, 2014 Joe Valdez rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-general
John Steinbeck has become an author whose books I can open to virtually any page and settle into a world I never want to leave. Even the men I work with who find fiction "theatrical" and rarely read books break into a smile at the mention of Steinbeck. His 1935 breakthrough Tortilla Flat was likely assigned reading in high school and it stands as a remarkable introduction to the author, with twenty-seven easily digested and related stories penned with faerie tale simplicity, wit and wonder.

The w
Mar 11, 2009 Becky rated it it was amazing

I loved this book. I did. Here's why: simple, straightforward, but oh-so-charming storytelling. No pretenses. What you see, is what you get. Danny. Pilon. Big Joe Portagee. Pablo Sanchez. Jesus Maria Corcoran. Pirate and his dogs. Some might argue that none of these are great characters. You might even make the (valid) point that each one is a 'failure' of sorts--since between them they're barely surviving by the world's standards. They live to drink and drink to live. But are they happy? Yes! T
D.B. Woodling
Mar 03, 2016 D.B. Woodling rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: readers who appreciate classic literature

In this short novel, published in 1935, the author accomplished what he has consistently achieved, awakening emotion through lifelike characters. Written during the depression, it is no wonder Steinbeck’s destitute but optimistic characters appealed to the masses. Their appreciation of basic needs — with the occasional bottle of wine and a lusty woman thrown in — struck a chord with so many experiencing similar hardships.

Though criticized for a demeaning portrayal of Mexican-Americans, Steinbeck
Kev D'Olivo
Apr 03, 2008 Kev D'Olivo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some things i noticed about this book:

1. Allegory for King Arthur and the knights of the Roundtable
2. Danny's good side represents Arthur, while his wild side represents Lancelot's later character.
3. For a while i thought Danny was a figure of christ becasue of his forgiving and sacrificial nature, but his later exploits dispeled this notion.
4. Torelli is definitley a symbol for Satan, the snake imagery surrounding his character is hard to miss.
5. The big party for Danny = the last supper.
Aug 21, 2011 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-novels
This novel could easily be a set of short stories, a morality tale (or immorality!), a retelling of the Arthurian legends or a retelling of the gospels with a very alternative last supper!
Danny and his friends (all paisanos) spend their time looking for food, wine, shelter and women and this is pretty much all they need in life to be content. Getting hold of wine is a thread through the book and its role is important; sharing your wine is true friendship and there are some excellent quotes
"Two g
Anna [Floanne]
Molto lontano dai drammi e dalla tensione narrativa di Furore, la storia di questi simpatici paisanos di Pian della Tortilla è leggera e divertente. A tratti mi ha ricordato "Amici miei" per gli scherzi goliardici e per l'atmosfera tragicomica che investe le loro avventure. Pilon, Gesù Maria, il Pirata, Joe Portoghese il Grande, Pablo e il "ricco" Danny che li ospita nella sua casa ereditata sono un gruppo di beoni scansafatiche che ne escogitano una più del diavolo per riuscire a mettere le man ...more
Dec 18, 2014 F.R. rated it liked it
I went to Monterey recently (on my honeymoon, as it happens) and was utterly charmed by the place. A quirky and picturesque seaside town nestled on the coast of California, which manages to be touristy without being tacky, historic while still embracing the modern, and sleepy even when recognising the cosmopolitan. Also, it does damn good clam chowder. Having gone there and somewhat fallen in love with the place, how could I then resist the writings of its most famous son? Particularly when that ...more
one wonders if one could do away with ambition and computers and bookface and tivo and truly be happy living day to day, sleeping in a hollow log, stealing one's dinner from pumpkin patches and bean fields, trading a day's work for a jug of cheapo wine or a roll in the hay with a whore-with-a-heart-of-gold... of course, had steinbeck truly lived the life of the paisanos in his novel, he never could've written it! well, possibly written. never published. therein lies the argument for capitalism a ...more
Nov 24, 2015 Steven rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This King Arthuresque novel tells the story of a group of paisanos, local countrymen of Mexican-Indian-Spanish-Caucasian descent, living in a shabby district known as Tortilla Flat above the town of Monterey on the Californian coast. The story centers on Danny, or rather, it is "the story of Danny and of Danny's friends and of Danny's house. It is a story of how these three become one thing... when you speak of Danny's house you are to understand to mean a unit of which the parts are men, from w ...more
Published in 1935, Tortilla Flat is one of John Steinbeck's earliest novels. The story revolves around Danny who inherits two old houses in the poor hillside area of Monterey after he returns from World War I. He and five paisanos live in the houses where they tell tall tales, drink wine, and chase women. The paisanos have a mixture of Spanish, Indian, Mexican, and Caucasian ancestry. In the preface, Steinbeck compares the adventures of Danny and the paisanos to those of King Arthur and the knig ...more
Ted Mallory
Apr 24, 2010 Ted Mallory rated it really liked it
Part way through Tortilla Flat, I commented to a friend that I found it odd that Steinbeck was writing about a group of homeless veterans and he never directly addresses either their war experience or the difficulty adjusting to civilian life. Now that I've finished it, (don't worry, this is not a spoiler) I think I was wrong. Maybe when it was first published in 1935 people didn't directly address such things anyway. These are WWI vets. "Shell Shocked" was a new concept and not necessarily a co ...more
Tortilla Flat is quite a number of things. On the surface, it's a short novel about a group of friends with certain proclivities towards drinking wine. A lot of wine. On another level it's supposedly a retelling of the Knights of the Round Table, but I am not even going to front like I know enough about that to appreciate that connection at its depths. On another level, suiting our economic times, it's also about rising up in social classes -- how difficult it is to do, what happens to us and ou ...more
Vit Babenco
Feb 10, 2016 Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tortilla Flat is a case of the meek inheriting the earth – some are meek in the head, some are meek in their moral attitudes and some have other kinds of meekness…
“Teresina was a mildly puzzled woman, as far as her mind was concerned. Her body was one of those perfect retorts for the distillation of children. The first baby, conceived when she was fourteen, had been a shock to her; such a shock, that she delivered it in the ball park at night, wrapped it in newspaper, and left it for the night w
Feb 14, 2016 Tabuyo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: clásicos
Una delicia de historia sobre el valor de la amistad y la libertad. Algunas escenas son para partirse de risa. Pilón forever!!
Dec 12, 2013 Ian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A gem of sustained and sparkling brilliance. So good I cannot believe it is not more widely acclaimed. It is a novel, and yet each chapter is a self-contained episode which could be excerpted as a short story in its own right. Coastal California is Steinbeck's setting, Tortilla Flat a backwater inhabited by indigenous paisanos, of which Danny and his friends are peculiar examples. These are workshy roughnecks, prone to drinking, womanising, fighting and stealing. Their sense of kinship is undeni ...more
Frances Margaret
Aug 15, 2015 Frances Margaret rated it it was amazing
So you start out with a bunch of despicable characters who couldn't possibly have any stories worth telling as their lives are seemingly empty except when they happen to have some wine. Steinbeck proves us wrong. How many times have you seen a homeless drunkard sitting by the road staring at nothing and felt sorry for the guy? Steinbeck teaches us that there is no need to be, because that man is staring at the world in its entirety, and that man has more time than you'll ever have to tell the st ...more
Alex Duncan
Jul 08, 2013 Alex Duncan rated it really liked it
Fun book. A little hard to get into but once you're there you'll be sad when it's over.
Jul 02, 2013 Ben rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-lit
Thy life is not thine own to govern, Danny, for it controls other lives. See how thy friends suffer! Spring to life, Danny, that thy friends may live again!

Steinbeck obviously models his tale of Danny and his comrades in Tortilla Flat after Le Morte d'Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory. He never hid his infatuation with the stories of King Arthur and his knights. Nor did he hide his partiality toward an idea which describes a community as an organism. With his chapter epigraphs and little mini-stories
Alison Looney
Dec 01, 2008 Alison Looney rated it liked it
I read an old copy of this book (not old as in antique or valuable, just old as in the pages are falling out and the paper smells funny), which might account for the somewhat odd blurb on the back. I don't have the book with me, so this definitely isn't a quote, but I'll try to capture the tone: some wild and crazy guys have good times on Tortilla Flat! Wine, women, and nonstop fun! You never know what will happen next!

After I finished the book, I read some literary criticism online that said it
Nov 27, 2011 Jonathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: classic fans, anyone who loves a good story
As my first foray into the works of John Steinbeck Tortilla Flat was both intriguing and fascinating. It was clear from the outset that Steinbeck holds mastery over the language captured within his vocabulary and is able to force it to breathe and move like a living creature.

Although a small novel by modern standards (at only around 170 pages) Tortilla Flat was a study of the daily lives of a group of friends living in Tortilla Flat in California. Brought together by the common thread of friend
Sep 04, 2012 Joe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011, best-books-ever
I loved this book. The characters in it are happy to be alive, and they transfer their joy to you through Steinbeck's witty, fast, and effortlessly profound prose.

In short, it's a story of a half dozen bums, one of whom inherits a house that they all end up living in. They have no other goal in life but to find enough wine, food, and love to enjoy the coming night with their friends. Whether it's the Pirate and his five dogs, or Pilon with his darkly petty schemes, you can't help thinking that
Sep 19, 2014 sdw rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This book wasn't nearly as offensive as I expected. However, it was still pretty racist, and it's hard to get around that to find too much pleasure in the other parts of the book. In addition to the super sterotyped Mexican characters (one member of the gang is Portuguese), there are also digs at jews. The book had some strange parallels to Cannery Row. There were parts of Tortilla Flat that made the book feel like a partial draft for Cannery Row. It's not entirely clear to me that Steinbeck kne ...more
Thomas Juhl
Jul 10, 2015 Thomas Juhl rated it did not like it
First and foremost – I really like Steinbeck. 'Of mice and men' is simply fantastic and 'grapes of wrath' is one of the best books I ever read. I did not like Tortillia Flat.

Firstly I found the plot dull and the characters unlovable. I didn’t find them funny, clever og inspiring in any way and the book isn’t really anything but these characters.

Secondly the book is drenched in rape-culture. I know the times and the view of women were different back then but throughout the book rape and attempte
Nov 29, 2013 Allan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Danny and his paisano friends are what might be referred to as "likeable rogues". There is comedy in here, which at times obscures the harsh realities of their lives. They survive by scrounging, stealing and selling anything they find, usually for bootlegged wine or liquor. It is striking that for all the violence and thieving both amongst them as a group and others in the community where they live, hostility is short-lived and comradeship prevails.

What made this a 4 star for me were the wonder
Saba Amiridze
May 31, 2016 Saba Amiridze rated it it was amazing
უფრო და უფრო მიყვარდება ეს კაცი.
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John Steinbeck III was an American writer. He wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath, published in 1939 and the novella Of Mice and Men, published in 1937. In all, he wrote twenty-five books, including sixteen novels, six non-fiction books and several collections of short stories.

In 1962 Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Steinbeck grew up in the Salinas Valley
More about John Steinbeck...

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