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Tortilla Flat

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  24,669 ratings  ·  1,215 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...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published July 2001 by Longman Schools Division (a Pearson Education Company) (first published 1935)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Roddy
Jul 23, 2007 Roddy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
Sarah Null
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
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 err..wine 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...more
Kim

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...more
Jason Koivu
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...more
Joe Valdez
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...more
Becky

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...more
Fewlas
Questo libro racconta le tragicomiche avventure di un gruppo di paisanos di Pian della Tortilla, Monterey. Danny è l’erede di una casa proprio a Pian della Tortilla che ospiterà i suoi amici Joe Portoghese il grande, il Pirata, Gesù Maria, Pablo e Pilon (“Ai Pilon, amigo!”). Danny è sicuramente l’eroe fantiano che malinconicamente e strenuamente vorrebbe mantenere vivo in perpetuo il suo slancio vitale. Il suo amico Pilon è colui che trama ed escogita, potremmo considerarlo la mente del gruppo....more
Kev D'Olivo
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.
6....more
F.R.
I went to Monterey recently (on my honeymoon, as it happens) and I 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 th...more
Connie
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
brian
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
Taylor K.
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
Ted Mallory
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
Paul
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...more
Ian
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
Alex Duncan
Fun book. A little hard to get into but once you're there you'll be sad when it's over.
Stefania T.

Questa è la storia di Danny, degli amici di Danny e della casa di Danny. È la storia di come queste tre cose diventarono una sola.
A Pian della Tortilla, parlare della casa di Danny non significa parlare d'una costruzione di legno incrostata di calce e stretta dai lacci d'un vecchio cespo rampicante di rosa castigliana. No, quando uno parla della casa di Danny, parla di uomini che, costituiti in unità, largirono filantropia, e conobbero dolcezza, gioia e, infine, mistico dolore. Poiché la casa di
...more
Alison Looney
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...more
Joe
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...more
sdw
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
Shovelmonkey1
Steinbeck once again paints a colourful picture of life around the Canneries in Monteray. My favourite passage from this book;
"Time is more complex near the sea than in any other place for in addition to the circling of the sun and the turning of the seasons, the waves beat out the passage of time on the rocks and the tides rise and fall as a great clepsydra."
The Pirate, with his collection of spiritually inclined dogs was my favourite with the award for the best dog name going to the dog known...more
Ben
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...more
Christopher
The past reviews I have done of Steinbeck's works, I have noted how very simple his prose style is. This is certainly not the case with "Tortilla Flat." Emulating the bombastic style of the old Arthurian legends, which he loved all his life, Steinbeck's use of a rather pompous tone throughout the novel makes this one of his most engaging reads. The story itself is a simple tale about a couple of paisanos, led by the kind and loyal Danny, who live together and enjoy all the pleasures and pains of...more
Joyce Lagow
Steinbeck was born in Salinas and grew up in the Salinas/Monterey area. That he loved the region and its people is abundantly clear in many works such as Tortilla Flat and Cannery Row. In particular, he had great affection for the not-so-respectable; Tortilla Flat is a collection of stories about a group of paisanos� � a mixture of Spanish, Indian, Mexican and assorted Caucasion bloods� , speaking � English with a paisano accent and Spanish with a paisano accent.� They live in a run-down, shabby...more
Jonathan
Nov 27, 2011 Jonathan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
Tieu uyen
Đọc cái lời giới thiệu gì mà câu chuyện sinh động về các Chí Phèo kiểu mỹ ở một cái làng vũ đại kiểu Mỹ, làm người ta thảng thốt về trình độ giới thiệu/cảm nhận/hiểu biết của người viết lời giới thiệu ở bìa 4. Má ơi, nói thế có khác gì bảo Chí phèo của vũ đại là bản sao của câu chuyện Vua Athur. Lạy các bạn viết lời giới thiệu luôn á. Steinbeck mà đọc được quả giới thiệu này chắc cũng phải đội mồ sống dậy, lấy khăn lau mồ hôi hột.
Bản thân mình thấy cuốn truyện này chán ốm, tẻ ngắt và nhạt nhẽo....more
Allan
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...more
Marialyce
Steinbeck again explores the meaning of friendship among a not so affluent society of men affected by the end of the war. Their way of life although seeming shiftless provides the setting for what Steinbeck thought was the best qualities of men, that ability in a small way to show care, concern, and friendship for other men. These were the men whose focus seemed to be drinking (wine in particular), hooking up with loose women, but mostly learning how to show and demonstrate their feelings toward...more
Patty
When a book is well written and the reader can empathize with the characters the experience is a joyful time well spent. Tortilla Flat surpassed my expectancy of a good read!

I need to trust those who have declared a book a classic or those that chose an author to be a Nobel prize winner. I like to make up my own mind on a particular read but I think these sorts of recommendations can not be often wrong. I feel badly that I was too lazy to actually read what my high school teachers assigned. I th...more
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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
More about John Steinbeck...
Of Mice and Men The Grapes of Wrath East of Eden The Pearl Cannery Row

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“Thoughts are slow and deep and golden in the morning.” 71 likes
“Time is more complex near the sea than in any other place, for in addition to the circling of the sun and the turning of the seasons, the waves beat out the passage of time on the rocks and the tides rise and fall as a great clepsydra.” 45 likes
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