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Tortilla Flat

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Danny is a paisano, descended from the original Spanish settlers who arrived in Monterey, California, centuries before. He values friendship above money and possessions, so when he suddenly inherits two houses, Danny is quick to offer shelter to his fellow gentlemen of the road. Together, their love of freedom and scorn for material things draws them into daring and often hilarious adventures. That is, until Danny, tiring of his new responsibilities, suddenly disappears...

256 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 1935

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About the author

John Steinbeck

646 books21.1k followers
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 region of California, a culturally diverse place of rich migratory and immigrant history. This upbringing imparted a regionalistic flavor to his writing, giving many of his works a distinct sense of place.

Steinbeck moved briefly to New York City, but soon returned home to California to begin his career as a writer. Most of his earlier work dealt with subjects familiar to him from his formative years. An exception was his first novel Cup of Gold which concerns the pirate Henry Morgan, whose adventures had captured Steinbeck's imagination as a child.

In his subsequent novels, Steinbeck found a more authentic voice by drawing upon direct memories of his life in California. Later he used real historical conditions and events in the first half of 20th century America, which he had experienced first-hand as a reporter.

Steinbeck often populated his stories with struggling characters; his works examined the lives of the working class and migrant workers during the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. His later body of work reflected his wide range of interests, including marine biology, politics, religion, history, and mythology.

One of his last published works was Travels with Charley, a travelogue of a road trip he took in 1960 to rediscover America. He died in 1968 in New York of a heart attack and his ashes are interred in Salinas.

Seventeen of his works, including The Grapes of Wrath (1940), Cannery Row (1945), The Pearl (1947), and East of Eden (1952), went on to become Hollywood films, and Steinbeck also achieved success as a Hollywood writer, receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Story in 1944 for Alfred Hitchcock's Lifeboat.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,063 reviews
Profile Image for Roddy.
30 reviews9 followers
July 23, 2007
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 yes, they know EXACTLY what they're describing - for the most part just recording the story as they would an event that really happened. They don't need a $2 word every couple paragraphs, they need maybe three per book. Besides, none of the characters would know the word, so why would you use it to describe them? What are you, better than your subject? I think the point Steinbeck constantly makes is - no, you're not. The characters are interesting and simply made, archetypes almost. I've heard its a Camelot tale and I can see it. They even use "Thou" and "Thee" in some parts. But it never seems heavy handed, you can almost see the characters realizing they're playing a part and stepping up to do it. Like Cannery Row, its about a lot of down on their luck guys, and the people of the town about them. Some richer, some poorer, all with their own little story. And Steinbeck seems to love the little side stories. Thankfully, he's so quick with his pen they're like brief tangents that come, then go once you've gotten the point of them. He never departs from our subjects for more than a couple pages, never spends 5 pages describing a rock or a particular tree, or even any of the men or the home they live in. A story that makes your throat tighten at the end, and makes you wish...well, you're supposed to read it. But the desire to keep things as they are is a very strong one in real life, Steinbeck makes you feel that desire and sense of loss in the little world he creates, and it takes him less than 200 pages to do it.
Profile Image for Lisa.
974 reviews3,328 followers
January 23, 2020
"Ah, the prayers of the millions, how they must fight and destroy each other on their way to the throne of God."

I don't know why the sad tales of John Steinbeck fill me with so much joy. It doesn't really make sense.

His is a hopelessly poor world, full of people who are destined to stay in the chaotic situation they call life forever. They know how to go through the different stages of heavy drinking, and how to mess up a perfectly fine love story. They know how to lose. And yet, the knights around the table in Monterey, California are more human than the heroes in the legends, they are warm and alive and caring. Black and white thinking is not for them, and they celebrate the only capital they have to invest: the colours of the rainbow reflected in the ocean on a sunny morning.

Steinbeck's prose gives me a sense of being part of a whole, part of a community of people who try to enjoy what life throws in your face (if it is pleasant) or to duck away in time (if it is not).

Tortilla Flat is as good as any Steinbeck can be, and in my world, that is perfect.
Profile Image for Justin Tate.
Author 7 books889 followers
April 4, 2018
This early Steinbeck novel has the signature style that eventually made him one of the greatest writers of all time, but it never quite moved me like all his later works. I think the flaws have to do with he fact that the characters are unable to develop beyond caricature. We understand the “type” of people we’re dealing with, but we never really believe in them. Probably still a 4-Star book, but a bit of a disappointment when you put it up against all of Steinbeck’s other classics.
Profile Image for s.penkevich.
786 reviews5,398 followers
May 25, 2022
Things that happen are of no importance. But from everything that happens, there is a lesson to be learned.

In his youth, Nobel Prize winning author John Steinbeck was enamoured with Thomas Malory’s The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights, saying reading the book developed ‘my sense of right and wrong, my feeling of noblesse oblige, and any thought I may have against the oppressor and for the oppressed.’ Steinbeck was working on his own retelling of Malory’s texts at the time of his death (posthumously published), yet early in his career he attempted his first foray into Arthurian legend with Tortilla Flat, a comedy of a group of friends—paisanos as he frequently reminds us—led by Danny who all live together in a house that was ‘not unlike the Round Table, and Danny's friends were not unlike the knights of it’ as he writes in the intro. While their adventures primarily consist of scheming for ways to get wine, Steinbeck constructs a heartwarming and funny story about friendship and solidarity where his love for the characters is so clear it is hard to do anything but love them as well.

This wine soaked Arthurian adventure set in post WWI California is such a delight that shows Steinbeck at some of his most tender and playful. The chapters plit the narrative into brief little episodes, framed much like tales of the Knights of the Round table. Except here they are digging for treasure or stealing wine, and while they may not fight a dragon they do fight a vacuum cleaner in a scene hilariously depicted as such an act of heroism against a vicious beast you might as well be picturing a dragon. The head of these friends is Danny, their King Arthur, who has inherited two houses and allows all his friends to live in one. By his side is Pilon, who functions as the Merlin character of the novel. After they burn one down by accident, Danny allows them to live with him (not much phases him) and they become a band of poor folk keeping each other alive and full of wine. Which gives us some wonderfully comical passages:
Two gallons is a great deal of wine, even for two paisanos. Spiritually the jugs maybe graduated thus: Just below the shoulder of the first bottle, serious and concentrated conversation. Two inches farther down, sweetly sad memory. Three inches more, thoughts of old and satisfactory loves. An inch, thoughts of bitter loves. Bottom of the first jug, general and undirected sadness. Shoulder of the second jug, black, unholy despondency. Two fingers down, a song of death or longing. A thumb, every other song each one knows. The graduations stop here, for the trail splits and there is no certainty. From this point anything can happen.

Steinbeck’s theme of solidarity amongst the poor is certainly present here, and he depicts their lives, simple as they might be, as being as meaningful and important as anyone else, and more pure and worthwhile than the wealthy folks. The friends here remind me a bit of those in his later novel, Cannery Row, simple yet pure. However, Steinbeck later expressed regret over this novel, even though it was his first commercial success and finally launched his career. He disliked that critics seemed to latch onto the characters as ‘quaint but colorful bums’, saying they were real people who deserved respect:
literary slummers have taken these people up with the vulgarity of duchesses who are amused by and sorry for a peasantry. These stories are out, and I cannot recall them. But I shall never again subject to the vulgar touch of the decent these good people of laughter and kindness, of honest lusts and direct eyes, of courtesy beyond politeness. If I have done them any harm by telling a few of their stories, I am sorry

Steinbeck had often spoken out against the elites of the time and it hurt him to see his lovable characters be an amusement to them instead of a lesson of solidarity or a comfort to readers not unlike his cast of characters. Particularly as not valuing material objects or not pursuing wealth for the sake of wealth is a major theme and any pursuit of anything, wealth or wine, is always seen as for the good of the group. Danny doesn’t even charge rent because he doesn’t want money to get in the way of friendship. Community is at the heart of Steinbeck’s work and it is certainly a major theme here.

The group of friends seem to have their own code of ethics that plays with the ideas of chivalry from Arthurian legend. Pilon, who functions as the Merlin character of the novel and is often giving Danny advice, is frequently trying to pay Danny rent despite him not asking for any. When he comes across money, he decides it best not to give it to Danny for he will ruin his teeth by undoubtedly buying candy with the money. The novel is full of similar justifications for behavior, all with a winking assumption it is being chivalric, such as when they “fight” the vacuum cleaner that Danny gifts to his girlfriend in order to “rescue” Danny from the domestic lifestyle they fear it will usher in. While this is sweet and comical, it is also a rejection of adulthood and a loss of innocence these friend’s seem to wanting to shield Danny from. With Danny, they can remain happily drunk and unproductive and they aim to keep him from moving on in the world and leaving them behind.

There is sort of a college buddy movie comedy vibe to this book, with not wanting to grow up being a central idea. But is it actually not wanting to grow up or more questioning responsibilities in a society that outcasts the many for the sake of the few? Why would they support a society that doesn’t have their back? Danny seems to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders throughout the novel, getting more and more depressed as the novel goes on. He is even seen with a black bird—clearly a symbol of death—over him, as his wild ways begin to catch up to him. ‘Then I will go out to The One who can fight,’ Danny declares at a party, ‘I will find The Enemy who is worthy of Danny!’ His defiance of life turns to be his undoing, but perhaps this is what Danny wants most. Youth ends, and without having found meaning in needing to go on, he remains young and wild in the minds of all forever.

While admittedly one of his lighter reads, Tortilla Flat is a comical little gem. Steinbeck fans will see many of his themes present here, though in smaller and more lighthearted doses, and his signature charm is certainly on display. I should note that, unfortunately, the depictions of women aren’t exactly great and casual racism is present. That said, it is a heartwarming story and Steinbeck creates a really textured and lively town populated with a fun cast of characters all having little misadventures while a larger idea on the dissatisfaction with life and society is able to play out. Short, fun, and very funny, Steinbeck never fails to satisfy.

Profile Image for Jesse.
84 reviews14 followers
January 16, 2023
Wine, food, friendship, and women (in that order) that's all paisanos need apparently. We follow a group of friends as they spend their days drinking wine and getting drunk, stealing in order to buy wine to get drunk, working (if they can't steal) to buy more wine and get drunk, seducing women who have wine to share so they can get drunk, or treasure hunting so they can buy wine too, big surprise, get drunk again. If you haven't put it together yet it's basically a story about friends who get drunk, steal, womanize, and tell somewhat humorous stories once and awhile. It's no Grapes Of Wrath or East Of Eden. It really wasn't that enjoyable. The meandering plot and the anticlimactic casual ending (although fitting for a drunk) just didn't do it for me.
Profile Image for Brina.
887 reviews4 followers
January 6, 2019
John Steinbeck is a master American storyteller whose work is always a treat for me to read. Tortilla Flat is one of three of his works I have planned for this year and got me off to a rousing start. Tortilla Flat is the first of Steinbeck’s novels that takes place in Monterey, California. He gives readers a sense of the era of the Depression as well as the place and the scenery. The characters of Danny and his friends were comical and fun to read about their exploits as they cope with having little money but an expensive taste in wine and women. The writing is not quite at the level of Mac and friends in Cannery Row yet still flows well. One can tell that this was one of Steinbeck’s earlier works as his writing isn’t as polished here; however, a less than stellar Steinbeck still rates among some of the best writing. While Cannery Row is my favorite at this point, Tortilla Flat was still an entertaining read. I got to immerse myself in Steinbeck’s Monterey again and read the book that got his career off the ground. I look forward to reading the other of his books I have planned for later in the year as I know that one of Steinbeck’s stories will always be a gem.

4 stars
Profile Image for Piyangie.
510 reviews390 followers
December 4, 2022
Tortilla Flat is my first disappointment of Steinbeck. By now I've come to accept the possibility of being disappointed over books of my favourite authors. However, it's still hard when that happens. This novel is an early work of Steinbeck and perhaps, that may account for the lack of mastery when compared to his later works. The novel may have had a fascination with the public when it was first published since it's said to be Steinbeck's first commercial success. But it's the kind of work that will wither in interest with time. At least, that's how I feel about it.

Tortilla Flat is quite similar to Cannery Row in story. Both stories are revolved around a group of friends. However, while I felt the characters in Cannery Row (Doc, Mack, and the boys) to be interesting and close to heart, the characters in Tortilla Flat (Danny and his friends) were dull and distant. Their adventures didn't impress me. They were full of wine and women, and nothing substantial. Steinbeck stamps on us the strength of their friendship and their loyalty to one another. And that is the only impressive feature I found in their characters.

The story was episodic, and each chapter is dedicated to a separate story of sorts of either Danny and/or one or more of his friends. This was an interesting structure, but sadly, the stories didn't come up to the mark; they didn't interest me. Steinbeck is a good writer, but in Tortilla Flat, either because of my lack of interest in the story or the characters, I failed to admire and appreciate his writing as I've done in almost every other work I've read. The only role of Steinbeck that I could appreciate was that of the humorist.

I'm in the minority here, so, before anyone of you jump down my throat, please know that these are my personal subjective thoughts about this novel. It may have its own merits which I failed to grasp. But to me, it was a set of boring stories connected through a group of people of whom I didn't care a jot.
Profile Image for James.
423 reviews
March 8, 2018
‘Tortilla Flat’ (1935) was John Steinbeck’s first significant literary success – both popular and critical. Put simply and in Steinbeck’s own words, Tortilla Flat is the story of “Danny and of Danny’s friends and of Danny’s house” – his inheritance.

Danny and his assorted friends are ‘paisanos’ – countrymen of Spanish, Indian, Mexican and Caucasian mixed heritage. Danny and his ‘band of brothers’ are essentially, in Steinbeck’s eyes, decent people who play life very much according to their own rules. This is familiar territory that Steinbeck revisited later (to great effect) in both ‘Cannery Row’ and its sequel ‘Sweet Thursday’ for which Tortilla Flat can be seen as a template.

In one sense, the stories of Danny and the paisanos feel almost mythological, somewhat biblical certainly and even Arthurian. Indeed Steinbeck in his preface to the novel notes that Danny’s house is not unlike the Round Table and his friends are not unlike the Arthurian knights of legend.

Tortilla Flat was adapted as a film and released in 1942 – however Steinbeck was less than impressed with the cinematic depiction of Danny and friends as ‘quaint, underdogs, curious and dispossessed’ and even suggested that had he known, he may well have not written their stories in the first place. Goodness knows what Steinbeck thought of the very Hollywood re-writing of the ending of the story?

Modern and contemporary writers and critics have cited that Steinbeck’s portrayal of the paisanos and their way of life, is not an accurate one and does somewhat perpetuate stereotypes of Mexican Americans. To that extent, Steinbeck was indeed a product of, and subject to his times. These are important points to be raised and conversations to be had – but these were very different times and it was a very different America. In context, being published in 1935 – Tortilla Flat was apparently enjoyed by many American readers as escapism from the Great Depression of the time. But in spite of such criticism and the confines of 1935 – the brilliance of Steinbeck’s work clearly transcends its time and despite contemporary criticism concerning (seemingly unintentional) racial stereotyping, Steinbeck’s work still rings true and strikes many a chord with the 21st century reader some 80+ years later.

Whilst certainly not in the same league of literary brilliance as ‘East of Eden, Grapes of Wrath’ etc – Tortilla Flat is nevertheless a fine book. It is a straightforward, yet powerful story – a very human story, simply told with great feeling for the narrative and empathy with the characters.
Profile Image for Sarah.
746 reviews146 followers
June 5, 2009
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 his narrator. But Steinbeck was certainly a product of his time. Which begs the question: can racism be excused if it's just a product of its time? Was it appropriate for Al Jolson to put on blackface makeup and sing "Mammy" because it wasn't politically incorrect back then? Was Twain's depiction of Jim no more than a minstrel show in print? And can we, as products or our time, truly judge these things with an unbiased eye?

Perhaps being "a product of his time" means something else. Perhaps Steinbeck's characterization of these paisanos as layabout drunks had nothing to do with their race and everything to do with the time and area in which they lived. Prohibition and the Great Depression made loafing lushes out of men of all races, colors, and creeds. Wine was verboten, so men wanted it all the more. Jobs were hard to come by, so eventually men stopped trying. This is the impression I got from reading this book: not that the paisanos were lazy, drunk, amoral, and poor because they were Mexican, but because in 1935 they didn't have anything else to do.
Profile Image for mark monday.
1,634 reviews5,009 followers
April 7, 2018
Synopsis: itinerant paisanos come together, then come apart.

I did not expect to smile and laugh so much! This mirthful book is not what I'm used to from Steinbeck. I knew there would beautiful prose of course, but instead of portraying the usual tragedies small and large, Steinbeck wanted to relax and have fun - and he wanted the reader to do the same, much as his characters do. Rather than looking upon the futility of ambition - of life itself - as a dirge, he made his story a joyous folk song and a snappy pop hit dedicated to impermanence. While still keeping his favored refrain of lives barely lived and humanity in the mud, of course. Steinbeck's gonna do Steinbeck, even at his most relaxed.

A hallmark of that relaxation, as well as cleverness: the author's shifting his dialogue back and forth from 1930s paisano slang (I suppose) to a very formal and stylized version of medieval English. All the better to drive home that this story of wine-soused layabouts also functions as a mischievous parody of Le Morte d'Arthur.

To these modern eyes, there was quite a bit that annoyed. The constant use of "Jew" as both verb and insult, of course - although hard to fault the author for what is coming out of his rather sweet but also rather dim characters' mouths. (And hey, "Jew" is still used the same way today - albeit by ignoramuses who should know better, and anti-Semites.) The basic fact that we have a white author portraying various characters of mixed heritage as drunkards, thieves, and fools also bugged. Both of those things contributed to my not taking this novel as seriously as I probably should have. And that said, Steinbeck's warmth, love, and even admiration for his characters shines through and made such issues almost - almost - feel minor.

The shallowness of the story meant that I took a lot less from Tortilla Flat than I did from my last Steinbeck experience - the off-putting, depressing, mournful, entirely brilliant Wayward Bus. But I sure did enjoy it a lot more.

3 of 16 in Sixteen Short Novels
Profile Image for Jason Koivu.
Author 7 books1,209 followers
March 12, 2016
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 in there amongst the inane, convoluted logic and self-serving prattle...maybe it was the wine talking?

Steinbeck dips back into the well of central-coast California, planting gypsy-esque Spaniard immigrants in a fictional town near Monterey called Tortilla Flat, a town and people so colorful he almost runs out of paint while doing their portraits.

But no, Steinbeck's brush stays charged through out. He layers it on, at times too thick for seriousness. Thank goodness Tortilla Flat seldom gets too serious. Certainly there are solemn moments: a death, a beating, friendships tested. Occasionally these moments threaten to collapse the whole buoyant structure. Perhaps a scene or two is too morbid for this otherwise laugh-riot. Oh, pass the jug of wine and don't let it trouble you!
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,854 reviews16.4k followers
September 9, 2018
A rollicking good time.

John Steinbeck’s 1935 short novel about a Monterey group drunks and ne’er do wells fashioned like an Arthurian legend is fun, if a little dated.

Steinbeck fans will note similarities with his later works Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday. Tortilla Flat was one of his earliest works and his first commercial success.

A picaresque tale told with humor and irony, this was also an entertaining glimpse into 1930s California as well as a visit with a very youthful Steinbeck (he was 33 when this was first published).

“Two gallons is a great deal of wine, even for two paisanos. Spiritually the jugs maybe graduated thus: Just below the shoulder of the first bottle, serious and concentrated conversation. Two inches farther down, sweetly sad memory. Three inches more, thoughts of old and satisfactory loves. An inch, thoughts of bitter loves. Bottom of the first jug, general and undirected sadness. Shoulder of the second jug, black, unholy despondency. Two fingers down, a song of death or longing. A thumb, every other song each one knows. The graduations stop here, for the trail splits and there is no certainty. From this point anything can happen.” 

Profile Image for Robert  Burdock.
26 reviews6 followers
December 15, 2011
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 the remarkable talent Mr. Steinbeck shows in the quality of his prose. He demonstrates an incredible talent for expressing himself literarily, and in the most poetic way. I could provide endless examples but as an illustration, instead of penning something simple such as "the Pirate used his wheelbarrow to help Danny", Mr. Steinbeck eloquently scribes it as "then borrowing the Pirate's wheelbarrow and the Pirate to push it, Danny..", which, like the most of the sentences in Tortilla Flat, read like silk.

If the quality of Mr. Steinbeck's prose forms one half of the success of Tortilla Flat, then the sublime depth of his characterisation fills the other half. Mr. Steinbeck succeeds at magnificently bringing his characters to life. Every one is profoundly realised, with each possessing their own idiosyncratic yet appealing qualities. It is a difficult choice to make but the most endearing character for me is "The Pirate', the man `whose head had not grown up with the rest of his body'. Conscientious, hard-working, a man of simple pleasure (a pleasure that consists of him either showing affection for his dogs, or working towards winning the approval of his friends), the Pirate epitomizes how a humble, honest and largely pious life should be lived, which superbly juxtaposes the lifestyles of the other friends in the group (well, with the exception of Big Joe Portagee :o)) which are as far from pious as one could get.

This is not to say that Danny and his friends never show good intentions at heart. Mr. Steinbeck is masterful at setting his characters on a path of good intention, only for them to either falter, or to manipulate circumstance to meet their own needs. This happens a lot, and more often than not, wine plays a role as either the primary motive or betrayer.

I truly loved reading Tortilla Flat. It is a delightful story, with magnificent characters, and I would consider it to be a work of absolute genius. I never thought it could be possible to be completely captivated by an author on the strength of reading one book, but I can state without fear of contradiction that Mr. John Steinbeck, thanks to Tortilla Flat, has found a rare place in my heart. I look forward to discovering the rest of his collection.
Profile Image for Eliasdgian.
407 reviews105 followers
December 13, 2020
Σαν άλλοι « τεμπέληδες της εύφορης κοιλάδας » οι paisanos ήρωες του μυθιστορήματος που έκανε ευρύτερα γνωστό τον Τζον Στάινμπεκ (Tortilla Flat, 1932) ξοδεύουν τις μέρες τους στο Μοντερέι της Καλιφόρνια μέσα στην οκνηρία, τη χαλαρότητα και την επανάληψη. Χωρίς εργασία και άλλες σκοτούρες, ο Ντάνυ και οι φίλοι του μοιράζονται τα λιγοστά του�� υπάρχοντα και ζουν κυριολεκτικά ο ένας για τον άλλο. Η ευτυχία τους είναι μια «χιλιάρα» κρασί και η κυριότερη αγωνία τους είναι πως θα εξασφαλίσουν την επόμενη (με μικροαπατεωνιές ή όχι). Κι είναι τόσο αξεχώριστοι όλοι τους, που μόνον ο θάνατος θα μπορούσε να τους χωρίσει.

Με την κοινωνική ευαισθησία και τρυφερότητα που έτσι κι αλλιώς χαρακτηρίζει το σύνολο του έργου του, ο Στάινμπεκ ενστερνίζεται τις (διαφορετικές) ζωές των φτωχών ανθρώπων της αμερικανικής υπαίθρου μετά το τέλος του Α΄ Παγκοσμίου Πολέμου («είναι άνθρωποι που τους ξέρω και που μ’ αρέσουν, άνθρωποι που με μεγάλη επιτυχία προσαρμόζονται στο περιβάλλον» αναφέρει ο συγγραφέας στο προλογικό σημείωμα του βιβλίου του) και δημιουργεί ένα αξιομνημόνευτο ψηφιδωτό ανθρώπων, που μπορεί να στερούνται τα (καθ’ ημάς) αναγκαία, αλλά έχουν ο ένας τον άλλο (πράγμα που από μόνο του είναι πολλές φορές αρκετό).

[Παραβλέπω την κακής ποιότητας έκδοση ή την ιδιότυπη δημοτική του σπουδαίου λογοτέχνη μας Άρη Αλεξάνδρου κι επισημαίνω ξανά κάτι από όσα προλόγισε στο βιβλίο του ο συγγραφέας, εν έτει 1937, γι’ αυτούς τους φτωχούς και όμορφους paisanos του Μοντερέι που στ’ αλήθεια κι εγώ τους αγάπησα πολύ: «Ποτέ όμως στο μέλλον δεν θα αφήσω να αγγίξουν με τα πρόστυχα δάχτυλά τους οι “καθωσπρέπει” αυτούς τους καλούς ανθρώπους του γέλιου και της αγαθότητας, που οι ορμές τους είναι τίμιες και η ματιά τους άδολη, αυτούς τους ανθρώπους που είναι φιλόφρονες, πέρα από τους τύπους της ευγένειας. Αν τους έβλαψα με το να διηγηθώ μερικές απ’ τις ιστορίες τους, λυπάμαι πολύ. Δεν θα το ξανακάνω.»]
Profile Image for Lorna.
653 reviews352 followers
October 27, 2020
Tortilla Flat was one of the earlier works of John Steinbeck taking place in Monterey, California during the years after World War I and the Great Depression. When Danny returns to Monterey after serving in the U.S. Army, he discovers that he has inherited the small home of his grandfather in Tortilla Flat. Told in a true Arthurian legend with the legendary knights of the round table, Danny gathers a rag-tag group of paisanos around him, but with each one standing firm in their loyalty to one another as they fall victim to many temptations resulting in a lot of chaos and unrest as well as a brotherhood. This was such an endearing classic of this American version of Camelot and unfolding in one of my favorite cities in California.

"Monterey sits on the slope of a hill, with a blue bay below it and with a forest of tall dark pine trees at its back. The lower part of the town are inhabited by Americans, Italians, catchers and canners of fish. But on the hill where the forest and the town intermingle, where the streets are innocent of asphalt and the corners free of street lights, the old inhabitants of Monterey are embattled as the Ancient Britons are embattled in Wales. These are the paisanos."

"What is a paisano? He is a mixture of Spanish, Indian Mexican, and assorted Caucasian bloods. His ancestors have lived in California for a hundred or two years. He speaks English with a paisano accent and concerning his race, he indignantly claims pure Spanish blood . . . "
Profile Image for Dolors.
524 reviews2,180 followers
August 24, 2022
I was glad to return to Steinbeck and his eccentric anti-heroes who divert the focus from the brightest elements of society in order to illuminate the sordid, the dusty and the marginalized. I was, once again, spellbound by Steinbeck's ability to artfully stand up to the cruelty of capitalism, the fierce racism and to dismantle the American Dream with comical and often outlandish situations that had me shaking my head while reading.

Tortilla Flat is the name of a neigborhood in the city of Monterrey. Full of ramshackle houses and people coping with their daily lives during the Great Depression, Steinbeck introduces a motley array of characters, or paisanos, the Spanish term he uses in the novel, who appear and disappear from a house inherited by one of the main characters giving way to the most unusual situations. Hilariously apathetic and lazily chaotic could define the tempo of the narration with sporadic bursts of lyricism that will glow in full bloom in future novellas.

A tale of camaraderie, friendship, the hardships of life but mostly, about wine.
It reminded me of Cannery Row but lacked the charm of a strong lead character and the poetic descriptions of the sea and surrounding areas of Monterrey that his later works never fail to provide.
All in all, Steinbeck proved to be the perfect companion for this scorching summer and the long nights staring up at the dark vault with glowing holes with a good glass of wine at hand and the slow beat of light music sounding somewhere else, distant but familiar.
Profile Image for Nikos Tsentemeidis.
402 reviews201 followers
September 14, 2016
Η αλληλεπίδραση του κακού και του καλού. Ο πόνος και ο ανθρωπισμός. Δυνατά συναισθήματα από ήρωες που λυπάσαι αλλά και σέβεσαι.

Πολυ δυνατή η πένα του Steinbeck. Έργο βαθιά ανθρώπινο
Profile Image for Joe Valdez.
479 reviews786 followers
June 27, 2021
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 world of Tortilla Flat is the town of Monterey, California, which has not been touched by the Great Depression and not yet mobilized for World War II. Steinbeck would later explore the lower parts of town inhabited by the catchers and canners of fish in Cannery Row, but this book is set on the slope of a hill, "where the forest and the town intermingle, where the streets are innocent of asphalt and the corner free of street lights". This is a place known as Tortilla Flat.

Tortilla Flat is inhabited by the paisano. Steinbeck writes, What is a paisano? He is a mixture of Spanish, Indian, Mexican and assorted Caucasian bloods. His ancestors have lived in California for a hundred or two years. He speaks English with a paisano accent and Spanish with a paisano accent. When questioned concerning his race, he indignantly claims pure Spanish blood and rolls up his sleeve to show that the soft inside of his arm is nearly white.

The main player is Danny, a paisano who enlists in the army and spends World War I breaking mules in Texas. When he returns home, Danny discovers his viejo (grandfather) has died and left him two small houses in Tortilla Flat. The responsibility of managing such wealth weights heavy on Danny and sends him on a reign of terror smashing windows, earning him a 30-day stay in the Monterey city jail.

Upon his escape, Danny encounters his old friend, the logician Pilon, a wanderer who works a little, drinks a lot and sleeps against whichever tree he falls down next to. Danny is determined not to let his wealth go to his head and offers Pilon room and board at the second of his houses. Pilon offers to pay ten dollars a month in rent, a sum which Danny never expects to collect and Pilon never intends to pay.

Pilon encounters his friend Pablo, a philosopher who sleeps under the wharf. Pilon offers Pablo board for fifteen dollars a month, rent which Pilon never expects to collect and Pablo never intends to pay. But under Pilon's logic, he will not have to pay Danny rent until Pablo pays him rent. Passed out drunk one night, Pilon and Pablo burn the house to the ground and move in with Danny.

Others join them: the humanitarian Jesus Maria, the dim-witted rascal Big Joe and finally The Pirate, a vagrant who sells pitchwood for a quarter a day yet lives in a chicken coop with his five beloved dogs. Pilon deduces that The Pirate had buried his earnings somewhere in the forest and invites him (and the dogs) to live with them in the hopes of discovering the location of his cache.

Many adventures featuring Danny and his friends ensue. These paisano tales become legend in Tortilla Flat. Steinbeck's chapter titles foreshadow the action nicely: I) How Danny, home from the wars, found himself an heir, and how he swore to protect the helpless. V) How Danny's Friends became a force for Good. How they succored the poor Pirate. IX) How Danny was ensnared by a vacuum-cleaner and how Danny's Friends rescued him.

Steinbeck's fiction has it all. There's drinking, singing, fighting and romancing, the cornerstones of a hard earned life. There's pathos, with characters considering the mysteries of the universe and why things happen the way they do. There are Caucasian, Mexican and Asian characters, as well as women, driving the story. The measure of a man is not where he works or whether he drives a car. Material rewards are anchors these free-spirited characters would prefer to live without. Instead, the measure of a man is how he treats his friends. I always find this world view supremely reassuring.

MGM released a film adaptation of Tortilla Flat in 1942 starring John Garfield as Danny, Spencer Tracy as Pilon and Hedy Lamarr as Dolores, the single lady who Danny gets into all sorts of trouble with after bestowing a vacuum cleaner to. Directed by Victor Fleming, the picture wraps everything up with a happy ending which was not a going concern in Steinbeck's source material.
Profile Image for Vit Babenco.
1,400 reviews3,282 followers
February 10, 2016
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 watchman to find. This is a secret. Even now Teresina might get into trouble if it were known.”
John Steinbeck paints his aquarelle of lush colours and poetic kindness in bold strokes.
Profile Image for Kim.
426 reviews507 followers
February 18, 2013

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 Caucasian ancestry, who lived in a shantytown in the hills above Monterey. Steinbeck's friend told him a number of stories from that community, which was referred to as Tortilla Flat.

One of Steinbeck’s abiding literary passions was Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d'Arthur: King Arthur and the Legends of the Round Table. He aimed to recreate the spirit of the adventures of the Knights of the Round Table in linked stories about Danny and his friends Pilon, Pablo, Jesus Maria, the Pirate and Big Joe Portagee. Living together in a house inherited by Danny, the friends develop a strong moral code which governs their relationship with each other. This code does not involve sobriety or other indicia of bourgeois respectability, such as respect for private property. While stealing from a friend is punished severely, stealing from those outside the group is not only accepted, it’s encouraged.

There is a lot to like about this work. The satirical, mock-heroic tone is clever, the characters of Danny and his friends are well-realised and sympathetically drawn, there's plenty of humour and Steinbeck’s prose is wonderful. On the other hand, to a modern reader the depiction of the paisanos as heavy drinking, thieving no-hopers – albeit with a strong code of friendship and mutual support – is disconcerting. And the sexual politics of the characters is questionable to say the least.

This is not my favourite Steinbeck. Although I appreciate Steinbeck’s achievement in recreating a version of the myth of the Knights of the Round Table and I love the characters and the writing, the work feels dated, which cannot be said of Steinbeck’s major novels. I listened to an audiobook which was very well narrated by John McDonough. It gets 3-1/2 stars, because anything Steinbeck wrote is worth reading.
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.3k followers
July 31, 2019
“Two gallons is a great deal of wine, even for two paisanos. Spiritually the jugs maybe graduated thus: Just below the shoulder of the first bottle, serious and concentrated conversation. Two inches farther down, sweetly sad memory. Three inches more, thoughts of old and satisfactory loves. An inch, thoughts of bitter loves. Bottom of the first jug, general and undirected sadness. Shoulder of the second jug, black, unholy despondency. Two fingers down, a song of death or longing. A thumb, every other song each one knows. The graduations stop here, for the trail splits and there is no certainty. From this point anything can happen.”

“Pilon complained, "It is not a good story. There are too many meanings and too many lessons in it. Some of those lessons are opposite. There is not a story to take into your head. It proves nothing."
"I like it," said Pablo. "I like it because it hasn't any meaning you can see, and still it does seem to mean something, I can't tell what.”

My friend George called to say he had discovered his musty copy of this and Cannery Row in a cardboard box and sat right down to read it. He encouraged me to do the same. Now, did. I have also recently reread Of Mice and Men, a work I much love, and thought it would be good to re-read a few of his central (socialist) books about human solidarity (Cannery Row, Sweet Thursday, Of Mice and Men, Grapes of Wrath), because: Still, The Planet. These books focus on communitarian ideals versus the American rugged individualist spirit of thousands of books (I just happen to be thinking of Hemingway in The Sun Also Rises, or even Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, all these isolated, alienated people). The importance of interdependence is central in Steinbeck.

Tortilla Flat is an early, short Steinbeck, seventeen vignettes, a kind of picaresque comic adventure story, a pretty romanticized depiction of a group of paisanos (mixed race) in the poor area of Monterey (CA), seen through a (King) Arthurian framework. Danny is Arthur and the Roundtable of Knight he cobbles together are a bunch of lovely underclass, rag-tag misfits who drink a lot, but also do Good Deeds (for Teresina, a single mom of 9 who has no food; for one who made a pledge to buy a golden candlestick for the church because he prayed and his dog miraculously survived: A miracle. They save quarters til they can buy it).

“They did not awaken quickly, nor fling about nor shock their systems with any sudden movement. No, they arose from slumber as gently as a soap bubble floats out from its pipe. Down into the gulch they trudged, still only half awake. Gradually their wills coagulated. They built a fire and boiled some tea and drank it from the fruit jars, and at last they settled in the sun on the front porch. The flaming flies made halos about their heads. Life took shape about them, the shape of yesterday and of tomorrow. Discussion began slowly, for each man treasured the little sleep he still possessed. From this time until well after noon, intellectual comradeship came into being. This was one of the best of times for the friends of Danny. Anyone having a good thing to tell saved it for recounting at this time. The big brown butterflies came to the rose and sat on the flowers and waved their wings slowly, as though they pumped honey out by wing power.”

You see there the solidarity of the poor, who don’t work much, just find ways to eat and drink wine. It’s a sweet, sentimental book honoring as he always did, the down-and-out, as did Orwell (Down and Out in London). A bit of Rabelais? Funny, warmly so, in many places. It relies too heavily on the Arthurian frame, and is an early book, but I really loved reading it, again. Maybe it presages a bit of On the Road romanticism, too. A book out of the Depression, a book of the times. And a book of solidarity with nature, too, a mystical healing force:

“Now Pilon knew it for a perfect night. A high fog covered the sky, and behind it, the moon shone so so that the forest was filled with a gauze-like light. There was none of the sharp outline we think of as reality. The tree trunks were not black columns of wood, but soft and unsubstantial shadows. The patches of brush were formless and shifting in the queer light. Ghosts could walk freely to-night, without fear of the disbelief of men; for this night was haunted, and it would be an insensitive man who did not know it.”
Profile Image for David.
Author 1 book28 followers
June 18, 2020
I had read Tortilla Flat the summer before entering the 10th grade. I liked it very much then because of the atmosphere of the novel with which I was entirely in sympathy. I was enthralled with the possibility of the lackadaisicality of life.

When you are 15, friendships are vitally important, and that's what this book is about (although these are men, not boys) among a host of other themes such as loyalty, honor, poverty, daring, truthfulness, love and so on. The characters are "paisanos"--a mixture of Americans of Hispanic and other European ethnicity, but that is not important to the story, although it has been wrongly criticized as such, in my view.

Steinbeck had been a student of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table in his youth and so had I. I did not realize it then, but the paisanos in Tortilla Flat were like the Knights of King Arthur in some ways. I suppose that that had been the subconscious attraction for me.

While I was in the middle of reading this book one summer Sunday night at that time, friends who had been becoming unfriendly for no apparent reason other than perhaps because of my disinterest in joining in on some of their nefarious activities tried to throw a cantaloupe (mushmelon) through my bedroom window where I lay in bed reading. The first time they missed but shook the house; the second time I was waiting for them and tried to hit their car with a piece of metal. I had recognized immediately who they were, the car they were driving, and I was surprised to see that these were boys that I liked--friends from church and summer camp and who had been to my house for lunch, friends of my friends (some of whom much later also betrayed me). I immediately tracked them down and it was resolved in a rather friendly way due to our parents being friends, although the betrayal continued all through highschool, in football, and beyond--harmless but unfriendly. Tortilla Flat also treats the idea of friends betraying each other.

It was about that time in my life that I realized that the best friend I would probably ever have outside of marriage and children would be a great book by a great author. I am now surrounded by great books by great authors. Tortilla Flat is one of those books, and it helped me through some mild unhappiness back there. I learned not to trust friendships too much.
Profile Image for Paul.
1,162 reviews1,921 followers
August 21, 2011
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 gallons is a great deal of wine, even for two paisanos. Spiritually the jugs may be graduated thus: just below the shoulder of the first bottle, serious and concentrated conversation. Two inches farther down, sweetly sad memory. Three inches more, thoughts of old and satisfactory loves. An inch, thoughts of bitter loves. Bottom of first jug, general and undirected sadness. Shoulder of the second jug, black, unholy despondency. Two fingers down, a song of death and longing. A thumb, every other song one knows. The graduations stop here, for the trail splits and there is no certainty. From this point on, anything can happen."
Steinbeck has been accused of recism and stereotyping. I can understand why and the book is of its time. Howeverthere is no real malice in the portrayal of Danny and his firends. I was strongly reminded of a group of friends I had when I finished university in 1981. I was living in bedsit land as were we all and our lives revolved for a short time around food, drink, interesting liaisons (more detail on application!!) and arguing about life. The bonds were loose and people drifted in and out, but there was the same sense in the group as I found in Tortilla Flat.
Ultimately friendship and wine do mean more than money. I know this isn't a substantial or important work but I loved it and its themes are universal.
Profile Image for Rafal.
306 reviews18 followers
January 29, 2020
Rewelacyjna książka.
Treść: historia życia grupy meneli, którzy spędzają życie na piciu wina, pochodzącego głównie z kradzieży. Wszyscy mieszkają w domu niejakiego Danny'ego, który dostał budynek w spadku po dziadku - także menelu. Dzieje grupy przyjaciół są zabawne, pełne niezwykłych zwrotów akcji i boskich interwencji.
Ale główna atrakcja tej książki to forma. We wstępie sam autor nawiązał do dziejów Króla Artura i rycerzy Okrągłego Stołu. Dla mnie jednak forma jest przede wszystkim nawiązaniem do Kandyda. Konkretnie chodzi o ironię. Ta książka to arcydzieło ironii. Nic w niej nie jest napisane na serio, każde zdanie to żart, wszystko jest z przymrużeniem oka.
A rzecz w tym, że dzieje bohaterów są raczej dramatyczne. To banda alkoholików, wyrzutków, których życie to pasmo klęsk, zdrad, nielojalności i szeroko pojętej drobnej bandyterki; nawet wobec siebie samych dopuszczają się kradzieży. Ironia powoduje jednak, że ich relacje między sobą oraz z otoczeniem robią się wzruszające i zabawne - czytelnik naprawdę przejmuje się ich losem.
Przeczytałem to z wielką przyjemnością.
Profile Image for Olaf Gütte.
175 reviews69 followers
March 19, 2017
Eigentlich eine Tragödie, die Erzählung von Danny und seinen Freunden,
aber mit viel Ironie und Zynismus macht John Steinbeck daraus eine liebens- und lesenswerte
Geschichte von den Bewohnern eines kleinen Hauses am Rande von Monterey, deren einzige
Lebensaufgabe darin besteht, täglich etwas zu essen und ein paar Gallonen Wein zu besorgen.
340 reviews54 followers
May 24, 2020
The good news is that the same brilliant author who wrote this unbelievably mish mash farce of a novel, 4 years later wrote one the greatest novels of all time, The Grapes of Wrath. This short book(thank, God) is only 207 pages in paperback and for some reason, has an AWOL Mexican Army Corporal show up with a baby that soon dies. The symbolism is lost on me as the rest of the novel has them drinkng enough wine to sink the Titanic. Really disappointed in this one but if Steinbeck wrote a bad novel, that gives me inspiration to me to write a book.
One final note, the movie starred Spencer Tracy and Hedy Lamar which is really a puzzler as there is no leading lady part in the novel so I ask my fellow Goodread friends-has anyone seen Tortilla Flats and what did you think of the movie?
Profile Image for piperitapitta.
944 reviews326 followers
November 16, 2018
La ravina e il burrone

Più vado avanti con la lettura delle opere di Steinbeck in ordine cronologico (Furore e Vicolo Cannery li avevo già letti prima di iscrivermi al gruppo "Steinbeck da leggere o rileggere") e più mi convinco che quest'autore - Premio Nobel, non dimentichiamolo - meriterebbe maggior rispetto dalle case editrici italiane con la messa in cantiere di nuove traduzioni dall'originale.
Con questo non intendo affatto sminuire le traduzioni di Montale (Al Dio sconosciuto) e Vittorini (I Pascoli del cielo e Pian della Tortilla) che sono state sicuramente adatte per l'epoca in cui sono state pubblicate, ma semplicemente affermare che se la traduzione di Montale, così lirica e poetica, può essere ancora apprezzabile ai nostri giorni, quella di Vittorini, soprattutto in Pian della Tortilla, mi sembra veramente antiquata e stridente.
Questa lunga parentesi perché purtroppo credo che questo approccio crei inevitabilmente una frattura immediata con il lettore che si trova a doversi confrontare con dei poveri diseredati, ignoranti e senza arte né parte, che sembrano invece essere nel loro modo di esprimersi paragonabili a dei guitti medioevali piuttosto che a dei paisanos del secolo scorso.
Se dovessi dire che mi è piaciuto non sarei onesta, anche se tra la prima e la seconda parte, a mio parere, c'è un abisso: sembra quasi che Steinbeck l'abbia scritta in due momenti diversi, quasi in due epoche letterarie diverse.
Nella seconda metà del romanzo ho trovato sprazzi e rimandi a quel piccolo gioiello che è Vicolo Cannery e la vicinanza tra le due opere è diventata sottilissima; come dicevamo nel gruppo, Pian della Tortilla sembra quasi il cartone preparatorio di Vicolo Cannery, se non fosse che l'ipotetica camera che inquadra la scena è ruotata di 180°: entrambi sono ambientati a Monterey, California, ma mentre Vicolo Cannery si svolge tutto a due passi dalla Baia, ed i suoi protagonisti, fra cui un gruppo di nullafacenti ""ubriaconi"" animati da buoni sentimenti nei confronti del Doc del quartiere, sono gli abitanti dei vicoli a due passi dal porto, in Pian della Tortilla Steinbeck si sposta nella parte alta della cittadina, ai confini con i boschi, ed i nullafacenti ""ubriaconi"" animati di buoni sentimenti questa volta sono dei paisanos.
La prima parte però non mi è piaciuta granché, l'ho trovata molto povera, ma non perché ambientata tra i poveri e i vagabondi, quanto piuttosto stilisticamente: mi è sembrato affrettato nelle descrizioni e poco coinvolgente nel ritrarre un mondo così diverso da quello cui siamo abituati e del quale, proprio per questo, dovremmo subire il fascino.
Poi però, ad un certo punto, ho letto queste parole di Steinbeck

« Ho scritto queste storie perché sono storie vere e perché mi piacevano. Ma le sentinelle della letteratura hanno considerato i miei personaggi con la stupidità delle duchesse che si divertono coi contadini e li compiangono. Queste storie sono pubblicate ed io non le posso più riprendere, ma non sottometterò più al contatto degradante della gente perbene questi bravi esseri fatti di allegria e di bontà, di cortesia ben superiore a tutte le smancerie. Se ho causato loro dei torti raccontando qualcosa delle loro storie, me ne dispiace. Ciò non avverrà più. Adios, monte! »

e mi sono sentita un po' a disagio, cattiva quasi, per non essere riuscita a calarmi in quel mondo e tra le sue genti e nonostante ciò per aver giudicato, commentato, pensato... Magari anche arricciato un po' il naso!
Mi sono detta, comunque, che forse la colpa non è tutta mia se non ci sono riuscita, ma anche di Mondadori e Vittorini, che mi hanno costretta, nel 2010, a sentire dei contadini parlare di "ravine" invece che di "burroni", fargli bere galloni di vino nelle fruttiere ed esprimersi con termini che se sono inconsueti per noi, figuriamoci per loro!

C'è un capitolo però, a poche pagine dalla fine, non ricordo se l'ultimo o il penultimo, in cui tutta la magia e la capacità descrittiva di Steinbeck, unico nel suo modo di scrutare l'imperscrutabile nell'animo umano e di raffigurarne vizi debolezze e virtù, affiorano dolcemente (e allo stesso tempo prepotentemente) ripagando di pagine poco coinvolgenti e di uno stile, forse, ancora da trovare o da mettere a punto in maniera più convincente: se ce la faccio lo copio e lo inserisco nelle note a margine.
Come dicevo però non si tratta di solo un capitolo, ma di una buona metà del romanzo: peccato non poter chiedere a Steinbeck cosa gli fosse capitato durante la stesura del romanzo tra la prima e la seconda parte :-)
Profile Image for Jolanta (knygupe).
805 reviews176 followers
April 25, 2019

Skaitant Tortiljų kvartalą, o ir iš kart sekančią - Konservų gatvę, vis pagaudavau save besišypsant. Šio trumpučio romano herojai - girtuokliai, valkatos, vagišiai... Būtent jų lūpomis autorius žarstosi gyvenimo išmintimi. Su puikiu humoro jausmu, saikingu sarkazmu ir bendrai atmosferai tobulai tinkančiu stiliumi.
''Tortilijų kvartalas'' nugulė ant mano mėgstamiausių kngų lentynos. Kas galėjo nutikti geriau?
Beje, po šio romano Steinbeck'ą pagaliau aplankė sėkmė.

''Mirtis yra asmeninis reikalas, sukeliantis širdperšą, neviltį, azartą arba nuobodų filosofavimą. Bet laidotuvės vis dėlto yra visuomeninis renginys."
Profile Image for John Mauro.
Author 4 books323 followers
October 27, 2021
The Claim: Tortilla Flat "tells the stories of these lovable thieves and adulterers with a gentle and poetic purity of heart and of prose." (New York Herald Tribune)

The Reality: Tortilla Flat tells the stories of a band of perpetually drunken, sexist buffoons who have no endearing qualities whatsoever. Steinbeck compares his cast of characters to the Knights of the Round Table. This is an insult to the good people of Camelot.
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