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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 members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    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!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • jaye
  • GREENWICH, CT, United States
  • 09-23-12

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!

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

a toast to Danny<br />

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

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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awesome

Only Suttree stands close to true hoboness of this fine old homeless family tree. One of my favorite Steinbecks

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  • LFB
  • houston, tx
  • 08-01-18

gifted writer

Steinbeck wrote a classic here every sentence descriptive and moving on. one of my favorite stories by Steinbeck

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Nice story

I enjoyed this book. It's amazing how these friends can treat each other so terribly at times but still in the end they care so much about one another.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Not your ordinary book

A very odd and interesting book. i found it entertaining and surprising along the way.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Not One of My Favorite Steinbeck's, But...

It's still Steinbeck and I crave his words, I missed so much by not reading Steinbeck until my late thirties. All of his stories have resonated with me in some capacity and this one is no different. Having lived on the Monterey Penninsula a few different times over the past twenty years, I like to think of it as my second home. Hearing the exploits of Danny and his posse as they travel the county post WWI reminded me of my time as a Soldier at the Presidio (albeit before GWOT) and keeping an eye on my drinking buddies on Alvarado Street.

The crew circuitously navigate back and forth across the ethical/moral line of friendship, predicated on the amount of alcohol they've consumed, since they last consumed, or when their consciences overpower that social inhibitor. Steinbeck never fails to teach through the follies and triumphs of his characters and those in Tortilla Flat have many. I was so proud of the boys' decision with the Pirate, yet so disappointed in their virtue compromising when it came to the drink.

I usually listen at 3x speed and had zero issues with this narration by John McDonough. I've listened to several books of his in the past and he's fabulous. I left only four stars for the book, because - although it's Steinbeck - it doesn't compare to his other works. I liked it better than Cannery Row, but far less than, Of Mice And Men, and nowhere near, The Grapes of Wrath.

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A Classic

Simply a joy. No one paints a story like Steinbeck. While everyone else was working on fiction of the wealthy, the great, and the fantastic, Steinbeck gave us the common people with hearts and plights just like our own.