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Tortilla Flat Paperback – Jun 1 1997

4.1 out of 5 stars 81 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Revised edition (June 1 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140187405
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140187403
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 113 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 81 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #44,444 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


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

John Steinbeck, born in Salinas, California, in 1902, grew up in a fertile agricultural valley, about twenty-five miles from the Pacific Coast. Both the valley and the coast would serve as settings for some of his best fiction. In 1919 he went to Stanford University, where he intermittently enrolled in literature and writing courses until he left in 1925 without taking a degree. During the next five years he supported himself as a laborer and journalist in New York City, all the time working on his first novel, Cup of Gold (1929).

After marriage and a move to Pacific Grove, he published two California books, The Pastures of Heaven (1932) and To a God Unknown (1933), and worked on short stories later collected in The Long Valley (1938). Popular success and financial security came only with Tortilla Flat (1935), stories about Monterey’s paisanos. A ceaseless experimenter throughout his career, Steinbeck changed courses regularly. Three powerful novels of the late 1930s focused on the California laboring class: In Dubious Battle (1936), Of Mice and Men (1937), and the book considered by many his finest, The Grapes of Wrath (1939). The Grapes of Wrath won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in 1939.

Early in the 1940s, Steinbeck became a filmmaker with The Forgotten Village (1941) and a serious student of marine biology with Sea of Cortez (1941). He devoted his services to the war, writing Bombs Away (1942) and the controversial play-novelette The Moon is Down (1942).Cannery Row (1945), The Wayward Bus (1948), another experimental drama, Burning Bright(1950), and The Log from the Sea of Cortez (1951) preceded publication of the monumental East of Eden (1952), an ambitious saga of the Salinas Valley and his own family’s history.

The last decades of his life were spent in New York City and Sag Harbor with his third wife, with whom he traveled widely. Later books include Sweet Thursday (1954), The Short Reign of Pippin IV: A Fabrication (1957), Once There Was a War (1958), The Winter of Our Discontent (1961),Travels with Charley in Search of America (1962), America and Americans (1966), and the posthumously published Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters (1969), Viva Zapata!(1975), The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights (1976), and Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath (1989).

Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1962, and, in 1964, he was presented with the United States Medal of Freedom by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Steinbeck died in New York in 1968. Today, more than thirty years after his death, he remains one of America's greatest writers and cultural figures. 

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
We'll consider this a Steinbeck "practice" novel. It made a story he published some ten years later all the more better for telling.
Tortilla Flat is a Monterey, California barrio that happens to house a few derelicts of society. Danny, the King of the eternally useless inherits his palace from his grandfather and shares it with his downtrodden pals. These princes of the lower-society gentry work hard every day in every way in a solid attempt to do absolutely nothing. And to the victor go the spoils as they succeed in surviving and celebrate with as much wine as can possibly be consumed in a lifetime.
Steinbeck attempts to tell a story whereby the nature of the characters make for the most interesting part of the story, but he can't quite pull it off. Dear reader finds that he must muddle through a lot of pages to get to a surprising ending. But overall, the real treat comes when years later he tells a similar story of a similar seaside berg with a host of interesting inhabitants in the hilarious story, "Cannery Row."
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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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By A Customer on Nov. 19 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Some of the themes that I saw in Tortilla Flat are wine drinking. I think
Steinbeck puts this in his story because when someone is in sober conditions they don't
know what they are saying, they act like children, and since the book is "supposed" to be
humorous he makes adults like children.
The other theme that I saw in Tortilla Flat is friendship because in the book the
character Pilon is wanting to know where the Pirate keeps his treasure but instead the
Pirate gave his treasure to Danny for safekeeping. For me this is a theme because The
pirate knows that Pilon and Danny are friends and still knowing that he has confidence
that Danny wont tell Pilon that the Pirate has given him his treasure.
The other symbol I saw in this book is the landscape, because in the book the
characters are always describing what is around them they are kind of ashamed of where
they live. Their houses and the town they live in. Steinbeck does this because he wants us
to see the poverty that his characters live in and how it is different these days.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
John Steinbeck creates a unique novel that describes a friendship between a group of friends. This circle of friends revolves around the main character, Danny. Danny inherits two houses and he shares them both with all of his friends. His sense of friendship and kindness to his loyal comrades helps them all to escape their toil in poverty. Friendship gives everyone the support that they deserve in a time of need; in "Tortilla Flat", John Steinbeck shows how important friendship is in a small circle of friends.
Tortilla Flat is full of setting from front to back. The story is set above the town of Monterey on the California coast, in the poverty stricken district of Tortilla Flat around the early 1900's. Danny and his friends are unemployed drunks who live to find another dollar so they can salvage a gallon of wine from the local tavern. They share with everyone, and their loyalty to each other makes every stranger become a companion. The unique setting of homelessness and lack of money forces the characters to unite in friendship and share their possessions with one another in order to meet their psychological needs. In the book, Danny speaks of sharing his shelter with his old friend Pilon, 'Pilon, I swear, what I have is thine. While I have a house, thou hast a house. Give me a drink.'(pg. 11) Steinbeck successfully paints a beautiful picture of the whole culture, as well as the surroundings. His incredible talent is reflected on every page of this book to keep you itching for more about this heart-warming tale of friendship.
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