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Publisher's Summary

Adopting the structure and themes of the Arthurian legend, 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 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.

Public Domain (P)2011 Penguin

What listeners say about Tortilla Flat

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
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    4 out of 5 stars

A Good Book

If you could sum up Tortilla Flat in three words, what would they be?

A continuation of life in Monterey albeit at a later time - post war era - and in a different venue from Cannery Row. A study in assumptions, ethnicity, allegiance, dependency and fate .... not necessarily in that order ... with a little mystery thrown in for good measure.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I liked the Pirate. I had no difficulty at all imagining his collection of dogs, his style of life that wasn't terribly different from theirs, and his unassuming nature and gratitude for the little he had.

Which character – as performed by John McDonough – was your favorite?

I suspect most readers would select either Pilon or Danny but, I enjoyed the humanity reflected in Big Joe Portugee more. Simple and direct in his thought process, sometimes entirely logical and others entirely illogical in his approach to solving many of life's problems, he reminded me of a gentle giant, someone easy to like and yet, not quite.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

I think it might have been when Danny's second house burned to the ground and Pilon and the group decided to move in with Danny in his first house. The sheer audacity of their thought process reminded me of too many times when I've seen kindness taken complete and total advantage of.

Any additional comments?

I liked the book but not as much as Cannery Row or Sweet Thursday. It just seemed to lack a definitive story line I could look forward to following. Perhaps if I'd listened while sipping on wine .... hmmm ... yes, that would have done it!

6 people found this helpful

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a toast to Danny<br />

journey to Monetary 's past with a glass of wine or two and Danny's friends,

2 people found this helpful

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Listen if you enjoy getting to know characters

Decided I'd listen because of John McDonough and he does't disappoint. Steinbeck created quite a crew and I got to appreciate and understand them all.

2 people found this helpful

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another great book by steinbeck!

Would you listen to Tortilla Flat again? Why?

yes! yes! i love the characters. reminds me very much of cannery row

What did you like best about this story?

the humor.the characters were great. i could picture these people interacting.

What about John McDonough’s performance did you like?

really wonderful! he did a great job getting into the characters.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

the way everything always boiled down to a gallon of wine. but the characters were genuine and never portrayed as unpleasantly drunk.

Any additional comments?

i wish steinbeck could write more books i eat them up and i will read all of them over and over except travels with charley (and my sig. other mike loved that one).

steinbeck is our fave!

5 people found this helpful

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John Steinbeck is a twisted dude

Such an odd book about drunkenness. The story feels chaotic as do the characters. Not sure what to make of it all.

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Steinbeck

I could never write anything worthy of judging Steinbeck’s works. Incredible novel. I will likely listen to it again in a few weeks. Amazing.

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They don't make books like this anymore.

What a wonderful narration. The book comes to life with the great narration by the narrator.

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this is the Steinbeck that I forget

2020 Reread - I am lowering this one to three stars, because the story had not stayed with me, and on reread I wasn't charmed by the characters.

Original Review, 2017 - My love of Steinbeck continues, and I have never found the words to say why I am so enamored of everything he writes. His books have weight and heart and substance. His characters are imperfect and take me on a journey through all the emotions I have ever felt. He makes me think and feel. This isn't in my top Steinbeck reads but it is still worthy of four stars.

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Uncanny & Beautiful

Though all of Steinbeck lends a beautiful simplicity and comedy to life, this story had a particularly earthly feel. The smallest of towns and the smallness of the world were palpable.

One image is unshakeable — the human/hawk/hovering cloud over Danny’s head — a precursor to Infinite Jest’s “shadow of the wing of the thing too big to see.” Steinbeck’s surrealist, uncanny movements — just for a moment — take you from the grays and dust of Tortilla Flat to a place just beyond our world, where the rules of our earth are suspended and imagination reigns. As with the boy who stumbles upon the eye of the Chinese nightwalker in Cannery Row, we can only wonder alongside poor Danny and his friends.

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Wonderful story..

I was hooked. It's been a while since being drawn in by a book. I would recommend to everyone. The reader was perfect for this book.