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Tortilla Flat [Paperback]

John Steinbeck
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 9 1997 Penguin Great Books of the 20th Century
Adopting the structure and themes of the Arthurian legend, John 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 center of the tale is Danny, whose house, like Arthur’s castle, becomes a gathering place for men looking for adventure, camaraderie, and a sense of belonging—men who fiercely resist the corrupting tide of honest toil and civil rectitude.
 
As Nobel Prize winner Steinbeck chronicles their deeds—their multiple lovers, their wonderful brawls, their Rabelaisian wine-drinking—he spins a tale as compelling and ultimately as touched by sorrow as the famous legends of the Round Table, which inspired him. This edition features an introduction by Thomas Fensch.

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Review

John Steinbeck knew and understood America and Americans better than any other writer of the twentieth century. (The Dallas Morning News) A man whose work was equal to the vast social themes that drove him. (Don DeLillo)"

About the Author

Nobel Prize-winning author John Steinbeck is remembered as one of the greatest and best-loved American writers of the twentieth century. His complete works will be available in Penguin Modern Classics. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
When Danny came home from the army he learned that he was an heir and an owner of property. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Tortilla Flat: Steninbeck's Funniest Book July 22 2011
Format:Paperback
Tortilla Flat is about several men who decide to live in a house all together and are a little to fond of wine. Several hysterical adventures follow. Beautifully written to upmost comic effect.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book from a great writer Feb. 1 2005
Format:Paperback
If you enjoyed books such as Faulkner's AS I LAY DYING or McCrae's CHILDREN'S CORNER, then you'll love TORTILLA FLAT. Tortilla Flat is truly one of Steinbeck's many masterpieces -- funny, touching, and exciting all at once. The novel is about Danny, a paisano from Monterey, his friends, and all of their crazy drunken antics. The stories in Tortilla Flat are charming and hilarious. Some of the best include the tale of Teresina Cortez, who fed her nine children solely tortillas and beans, and the chapter about Sweets Ramirez and her vacuum cleaner. The main characters are lovable too. Who could forget the child-like Pirate, the ingenious Pablo, the kind Jesus Maria, or the sharp Pilon? I would definitely recommend Tortilla Flat to anybody who is not offended by excess alcohol. This is a book that everybody should read!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Nothing flat about this one Aug. 5 2004
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Steinbeck simply cannot write a bad book. I thought his GRAPES OF WRATH was one of the most powerful and moving tributes to mankind ever. The only book that I've enjoyed more than this one is Jackson McCrae's THE BARK OF THE DOGWOOD. This book is funny, endearing and very entertaining. Who would have thought Steinbeck could write humor so well?
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3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining... at first July 8 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I read about half of this book and just could not keep enough interest to finish it. While the writing is wonderful, there is just not much development of the story. Halfway through the book we have the same characters in the same place doing the same things. I suppose that's a theme of the story itself, but it was just a little too hopeless for my taste. If you want vintage Steinbeck, read 'The Grapes of Wrath.'
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wine, Women, Paisanos! What a great trio June 4 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Pulitzer Prize winner, John Steinbeck is a classic master storyteller. Born in 1902 and died in 1968 he exemplified diversity in storytelling as "Tortilla Flat" demonstrates freshness to the ear.
The story's main character Danny becomes an heir to two homes, but his paisanos in the small town of Tortilla Flat convince him to "rent" one home to them. Paisanos are of Mexican, Indian, Spanish and assorted Caucasian blood. None of his friends can pay rent; they live off the benefit of others. Steinbeck ingeniously plays out a humorous story of camaraderie, loyalty, wine, women and more wine.
The paisanos share a philosophy that boasts good honest intention leading to a justifiable need for wine instead. The plot continuously unfolds with humor, wit, bonding, hospitality, visions, treasure, ethics, scheming, greed and evil. The friendship of all men evolves and slowly disintegrates as they separate.
Their philosophy is a departure from the socially conventional: Pilon, feeling guilty about owing Danny rent money, takes a job, earns two dollars in a day, and intends to pay Danny some rent, but he is swayed by the power of wine. He says "If I give him hard money, it doesn't express how I feel toward my friend." He buys and indulges a present of wine for two dollars and tells Danny it cost five dollars.
To get eggs, Pilon knows of neighbor, Mrs. Morales' chickens. He feels if he tears a hole in his fence, the chickens would like to nest in his tall grass. If they didn't pick her apples, they would spoil anyway.
When the house Danny rents to his friends burns, the men move in with him, and soon the story compounds as they scheme and entice more friends in.
Drinking cheap wine is a priority among the group as money is a chief problem.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I love Steinbeck May 6 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I loved The Cannery Row and had the common feeling of joy and satisfaction after getting through a masterpiece as well as of regret that the book cannot be read again with the same satisfaction and interest. Thank goodness, there is Tortilla Flat. Very close to the sprit of the Cannery Row, it speaks about homeless guys who find a home (2 actually). Their life changes and now they are faced with the common world troubles: responsibilities, greed, and neighbours. The simple life of a homless was seems quiate attractive after you finish. Good read.
Great MBA book - good humor and story. Simplicity and simple people are always appreciated. There is more wisdom in common sense than in any finance book. Get this one.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Steinbeck May 6 2004
By RCM
Format:Mass Market Paperback
"Tortilla Flat" tells the story of a group of friends who spend their time drinking wine and doing little else - except for thieving, cavorting with various women, and occasionally fighting with each other. Yet through all of these adventures, and some mishaps, they remain the truest of friends. They have formed a bond that even their conflicting desires and greedy natures cannot break.
After returning from WWI, Danny (the main character and leader of the gang) finds himself an heir to two houses from his grandfather. His friends quickly take up residence in first one house and then in Danny's house. They look out for each other, these six grown men, who vacilate from wisdom to foolishness, and bcome better men for having such friends.
As usual, Steinbeck's prose is at times sparse, at other times poetic. His characters are vividly drawn, and their sometimes larger-than-life antics are alive. "Tortilla Flat" may be hard to get into at the beginning of the novel, but once you've entered their world, you won't want to leave it.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Steinbeck Essential
This is a fable set in John Steinbeck's beloved Northern California. What it's all about are friendships and the dynamics of interpersonal dealings between immortal characters. Read more
Published on March 13 2004 by kkrome25
3.0 out of 5 stars The characters are anything but flat
Tortilla Flat was a very humorous book, and I started out thinking I had found a new favorite. However, after about the half-way point in the book, I started to feel as if the... Read more
Published on Feb. 23 2004 by Josh Daniels
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book
I am constantly amazed by Steinbeck's characters. His dialogue is so fresh and real, and the people who populate his seaside town are so vivid and different, that I can't even... Read more
Published on Feb. 10 2004 by "janet_buchman"
5.0 out of 5 stars Tortilla Flat -- An unexpected delight.
"Tortilla Flat" was an unexpected delight. I started reading without any knowledge of plot or character. Read more
Published on Feb. 4 2004 by Steven B. Elmer
5.0 out of 5 stars Ignorance grows as the warning grows
This book is not quite as beautifully written as "Of Mice and Men", but it has a very powerful and true message albeit it might be a little exaggerated in this particular story. Read more
Published on Jan. 29 2004 by Frederik Grøn Schack
4.0 out of 5 stars Unpolished, Yet Compelling ! ! !
This book was written in 1934 which was in the middle of the depression years after the 1929 Black Tuesday and the economic crash. Read more
Published on Jan. 21 2004 by Bette L. Hall CMA, NHC
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