Tricia's Reviews > Tortilla Flat

Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck
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's review
Jan 21, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: 11-01-jan, book-club
Recommended to Tricia by: Book Club

My only previous Steinbeck read was Of Mice and Men, and this felt quite different than that distant school read. However, it hasn't done anything for my need to read any more Steinbeck. I find his prose a bit stilted and I really didn't like the tone of this book. I can't explain exactly what I didn't enjoy, but I found myself not wanting to continue with the book, and I will say that if I wasn't reading it for a book club, I probably wouldn't have bothered fininshing it.

I think I found the characters' language hard to believe, and I wasn't really sure about Steinbeck's tone toward them. Were we supposed to sympathise with them? Feel affinity with them? Hate them and all they stood for? Root for them? It wasn't really clear and after going through their 'adventures', I am even less clear. It is a thoroughly sad and depressing look at a group of people who could fool themselves into thinking they were doing the right thing, and sticking by their own code, but that couldn't in the end save themselves even given some of the means of doing so.

Without a straightforward plot and instead a selection of vignettes, I think the whole thing doesn't hang together very well. I found the final chapters very depressing and I wonder what lessons any of the characters have learned or how they have grown. I guess I am left mainly with a feeling of 'so what?'

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