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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

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  • Overall
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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,

3 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.

3 people found this helpful

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All Together Now Only in Tortilla Flat

Although Steinbeck hypothesizes that Danny will be misremembered by sour scholars this contribution to American Fine Literature laid the foundation for the writers own popularity and subsequent memorialization. Whether or not Steinbeck himself is misremembered is largely up to us, from his novels one can gleam the man is an open book. While it may not be immediately apparent to novice readers, this particular work overflows with fanciful drama, nonstop whit, hilarity & the absurd. The characters are real and not pretentious at all despite being lowly gutter dogs. It is my sad fear that we can all relate, at least in part, to the Paisanos who populate Tortilla Flat. I can't remember how many times I've read this book but I do know that I am still reading it. I might always be reading it. God forgive me but I will die on the hill that claims this work as the 67th best book ever written. In my willfully biased estimation it is superceded only by the books contained in the bible. This is not flattery or the ravings of a madman hellbent on promoting a good book, rather it is flattery & mad ravings hellbent on promoting a great book. check it out and if you don't laugh at least once start over and try again. Repeat the process if need be. Then when you are seeing the work for what it is pat yourself on the back for you have become a true reader, please don't do this in vain.

2 people found this helpful

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Wonderful Book But Wrong Narrator

I love Steinbeck and one of the many reasons why is his treatment of societies' outcasts with dignity and respect. He shows us that their stories are every bit as compelling as those of loftier standing. This is a quest story, but instead of searching for the holy grail or golden fleece our protagonists seek wine. But, the story arc is the same and their trials and tribulations no less captivating. A tour de force celebrating the Calibans among us.

My only gripe is the casting of the narrator. He was certainly competent, but his tone was more formal and proper and in that sense did not fit the telling of the story which was about characters who were the opposite of formal and proper. I think a grittier narrator may have fit the bill.

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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Masterful prose: easy to like drunken thieves.

The narrator's somber tone was perfect for this tale of wretchedness, sorrow and joyful living.

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Fun and meaningful.

John Steinbeck is the greatest fiction author this country has ever produced. Once again he takes people we ignore and shows us their whole world. With gentle good humor. With a real story behind.

A joy, and especially well performed as well.

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Not Worth a Credit

Boring story about bums drinking, pontificating & stealing stuff. Can’t figure out how it was written by same author as East of Eden or Grapes of Wrath.

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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.