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Tortilla Flat [Paperback]

John Steinbeck
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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Book Description

17 Oct 1975
One of a series of top-quality fiction for schools, these humorous sketches by Steinbeck are in the same vein as "Cannery Row", and feature the same characters - illiterate, poverty-stricken, carefree and irresponsible paisanos from Monterey society.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Pan Books; New edition edition (17 Oct 1975)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330245546
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330245548
  • Product Dimensions: 17.3 x 11.4 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 373,372 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Steinbeck is perhaps best known for Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath, which led to his Nobel Prize for Literature award in 1962. Born in Salinas, California in 1902, Steinbeck grew up in a fertile agricultural valley about twenty-five miles from the Pacific Coast: both valley and 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 labourer 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 labouring class: In Dubious Battle (1936), Of Mice and Men (1937), and the book considered by many his finest, The Grapes of Wrath (1939).

Being partly based on his own experiences as a travelling worker, Steinbeck originally wanted Of Mice and Men to be titled 'Something That Happened'. The book explores themes of powerlessness, loneliness and empathy and received the greatest positive critical response of any of his works up to that point. It has achieved success as a novel, a Broadway play and three acclaimed films.

Steinbeck's compassionate depiction of the poor in The Grapes of Wrath helped the book become an immediate publishing phenomenon, discussed on a national scale and becoming an instant bestseller. The book was described by the Nobel Prize committee as a "great work" and stated that it was one of the main reasons for granting Steinbeck the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.

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)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).

He died in 1968, having won a Nobel Prize in 1962.

Product Description

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
How Danny, home from the wars, found himself an heir, and how he swore to protect the helpless. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best I've ever read 29 May 2004
Some readers will see the pure story of Tortilla Flat, some will gain hints of the book's wider moral undertones, others again will see its romantic side.
But for me this book has all that and more. I have read it regularly, about every two or three years during my adult life, and each time it reveals something new about *me* and the way I live my life in the present.
For true fans of Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath carries more indignant social commentary, Pippin IV more humour, Burning Bright more romanticism and Of Mice and Men more depth of character, However, if you want to see all these attributes distilled into one short volume, here it is.
To me this little book is John Steinbeck's masterpiece. I cherish every word of it and can honestly say that in my humble opinion it is the finest book in the English language.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tortilla Flat 13 April 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
`Tortilla Flat' was Steinbeck's break through novel and it is also one of his funniest. Following the exploits of Danny, Pilon, Pablo and various other Paisanos in the Monterey area, this book has one humorous adventure after another. As I've come to expect from Steinbeck (and I've yet to be let down!) this book has beautiful prose that sinks you immediately into the time and setting of the story. You can feel the colours, textures, smells and ambiance of every scene and you experience the facets of this book keenly and richly. If I sound like a fan, that's because I am, I love Steinbeck and this book only solidifies that opinion. You can see the emergence of Mack and the boys from `Cannery Row' in the dialogue and exploits of Danny and the rest in this novel and this shows the development of Steinbeck's group narrative and descriptions very well between the two. If you want a short, yet highly humorous book (that had me chuckling out loud on more than one occasion), with a more poignant ending that you'd expect, then this is the book for you and as you may have guessed this is one I recommend a great deal.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Mash
The characters in Tortilla Flat justify their delinquent "activities" in the town by imagining that they are acting selflessly, in the best interests of someone else. That may mean spending another's money on wine to stop that person buying candy that's bad for their teeth. Or it may mean stealing someone's money to see that it is "wisely invested". In recounting these tales, Steinbeck has tapped into something we can all relate to in some way or another, and he does it with great wit. For this reason (as well as the excellent introduction to this PMC edition), I liked the book. However, while the book is worth reading, I prefer the intensity of Steinbeck's more sombre novels.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Was life ever this simple? 27 Mar 2013
By shaun
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Another brilliant yarn fro JS. It deals with a bunch of carefree bums getting on with their hand to mouth existence. The good fortune of one of the group to inherit two houses from his grandfather enables them to live a near epicurian existence. But unlike the rest of us who would get very upset when some of the bums burn one of his houses down in a drunken stupor, our hero kind of like the release from the responsibility of owning two properties. And:Was life ever this simple? Yes it was according to my ancient relatives who never tire from telling me just how drunk and out of control things used to be when the carpet was rolled up and a shindig held in the village.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Merry Tale! 17 Aug 2003
By James Gallen TOP 1000 REVIEWER
“Tortilla Flat” is an entertaining tale of Danny and his paisano friends as they live the lives of a merry band of unemployed alcoholics.
Danny is the core which draws the gradually expanding group to himself and holds it together. Pilon, Jesus Marie, Big Joe Portagee, Pablo and the Pirate all introduce their own personalities into this story. For a group which never works, drinks wine whenever it is available and survives by stealing, they are an amazingly likable lot. Thieves though the are, they each have a good hearted and generous core. This book is an easy read, entertaining and funny. Read and Enjoy!
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I had read most of the John Steinbeck novels when I was in school but I seemed to have missed this one. I loved it, the pull between poor Danny and his friends was at times humorous but sad. Mr. Steinbeck used wonderful words to discribe all the characters in the novel it really made it easy to picture them. Longman publishing have done a great job with this educational version with a brief summary at the beggining and questions following each chapter, I could see how this could be very useful to a student. I would highly recomend this book.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
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 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'.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book
This is my kind of book. No police, drug or killing. Just a nice story with great characters. Lots of gentle humour too.
Published 4 months ago by Lorraine Beckwith
4.0 out of 5 stars Eccellent book
A superb character book you really feel you know the people written about - great story telling - probably people like that today
Published 5 months ago by jan
5.0 out of 5 stars A true classic
I read most of Steinbeck's work about forty years ago but missed this. Well worth a read, it is quite short but very funny.
Published 12 months ago by P. Winter
5.0 out of 5 stars Tortilla Flat - Penquin Classics
I belatedly started reading John Steinbeck with "Grapes of Wrath" and was instantly impressed! Therefore I decided to start again with his early books! Read more
Published 14 months ago by N J. RUSH
5.0 out of 5 stars arrived quickly in good condition as described
mr Steinbecks brillian books, not read this copy yet as I know the story, but it is a essential book to have on your bookshelf
Published 14 months ago by Mrs. J. M. Worthington
3.0 out of 5 stars Not sure this is really great fiction
Rather stereotypical views of the hispanics
Not much depth to it - but it is in the normal Steinbeck mould
Published 16 months ago by Bob D
5.0 out of 5 stars John Steinbeck the first American writer
I have enjoyed everything that I have read of Steinbeck from The Red Pony which was a set book at school on, consequently I cannot here a word said against this work. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Marcus
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
as always I love John Steinbeck's style of writing (once I had got used to it) Very witty and a bit far fetched
Published 17 months ago by stargazer
5.0 out of 5 stars Laugh out loud tale
I read this book a few years ago and thouroughly enjoyed it. The wonderful way in which the characters justify their actions and structure their lives is enough to bring a smile to... Read more
Published on 15 Nov 2011 by 3redcats
5.0 out of 5 stars The good intentions of beautiful losers...
The lyrics of an old Leonard Cohen song, "A Bird on a Wire," kept rolling around in my brain as I read this: "... Read more
Published on 6 May 2011 by John P. Jones III
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