Friday, October 16, 2009

156 - Tortilla Flat; John Steinbeck


John Steinbeck's Tortilla Flat, is a novella (fewer than 200 pages), but it packed a punch.  The story takes place during the Great Depression, in a shabby town outside of Monterey, California.

Danny, the protagonist of this story, has returned from WWI to find that he has inherited two houses.  One by one his friends, "paisanos", come together to stay at Dannys.  The "paisanos", described early on by Steinbeck as, " a mixture of Spanish, Indian, Mexican, and assorted Caucasian bloods......he speaks English with a paisano accent, and Spanish with a paisano accent".

The paisanos have good intentions, but there always seems to be a little something in it for them.  They are fiercely loyal to one another, and together they spend their days, jobless, drinking wine, debating, engaging in occasional fights, and spending time with the women of the town.  They steal from their neighbors, but help people in need, and they seem perfectly content with their lives, living peacefully in poverty.

Reminiscent of the tales of King Arthur, Tortilla Flat was a wonderful story.  Steinbeck's amazing ability to bring his characters to life, as only he could. The characters were flawed, but endearing men who will make you laugh and possibly even make you shed a tear or two. I was eager to turn the pages, and at the end, I only wished that the story went on for a while longer.  If you have not read this book, do so soon. Recommended

19 comments:

  1. I really like the comparison to King Arthur's Court! Good review!

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  2. Short classics are the best! Steinbeck wrote such great characters. Thanks for the recommendation!

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  3. I am embarrassed to say that I have only ever read one Steinbeck. Must remedy that. Maybe I should host a Steinbeck challenge to force myself to do it!

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  4. I read this a couple of years ago. As I recall, the men prefer laziness to effort in this lesser know novel by Steinbeck. Thanks for your review.

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  5. I've always wanted to read this one. Is "The Red Pony" a novella too? I've read "The Pearl." I would like to read "The Red Pony." Very good review.

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  6. I love Steinbeck and have been slowly rereading many of his books. This one I recently read for the first time - really enjoyed meeting Danny and the 'flawed , but endearing' paisanos. The Pearl, or possibly The Winter of Our Discontent, will be next.

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  7. It has been so long since I read this that I must definitely do so again! Thanks for sharing!

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  8. Excellent review that totally captured my interest in this book!! Thanks!

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  9. I read a lot of Steinbeack back when I was in school (many years ago!). I remember enjoying them - I really should read one now as an adult. This is one I'd never read. Thanks for the review -

    Sue

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  10. This one was also made into an excellent movie starring Spencer Tracy. You should check it out.

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  11. This is one of Steinbeck's I'd really like to read. I'm struggling with The Winter of Our Discontent right now but I'll keep plugging away with it.

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  12. How have I not read this book? Thanks for the fabulous review!

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  13. The setting for Steinbeck's Tortilla Flat was not a small town OUTSIDE Monterey. It was a section of the town, the exact location not definite. Steinbeck, based some of his characters on real people he had known. After it was published the city fathers of Monterey denied that any such place and people existed. Thisd was the first Steinbeck story to make any money for the writer andf his wife.

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  14. I cannot believe I haven't read this! Must read.

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  15. I'm thinking of doing Bibliofreak's novella challenge in November and this might be a good one. Thanks for the idea.

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  16. I am trying to read many classics that I have neglected in the past, and this one sounds great! Thanks for an awesome review. I have just added this book to my wish list!

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  17. Thanks for the review! I have another Steinbeck book, EAST OF EDEN, in my TBR.

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  18. This is one of those books that every time I see it mentioned I think - I really need to get around to reading that.

    One of these days. Your review definitely makes it sound worth the read.

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  19. I haven't read this one yet. Thanks for the push! :)

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