Review of 'Tortilla Flat'

Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck

“Tortilla Flat” is a shabby district of the California coastal town of Monterey. It is here we are introduced to a group of mobless “paisanos”, individuals of Mexican-Indian-Spanish-Caucasian descent led by Danny, who, unexpectedly, inherits two houses in “Tortilla Flat”. Over time various friends move in with him and one accidentally burns one of the houses to the ground forcing the friends to cram into the one remaining.

This short novel features a series of short chapters detailing the adventures of the group of wine-loving friends as they live their day-to-day existence, content with their lot in life. Whenever they have a dollar despite their talk, it is always spent on wine and that is about it. The story does have a logical progression with a logical beginning and ending but for the most part we just follow the simple lives of these friends. It is certainly a book of the times it discusses, complete with it's prejudices and simpler lives, a time that I feel is largely long gone.

“Tortilla Flat” is a gentle, simple, story that makes no apologies for the characters and, indeed, is told largely from their perspective almost in the form of a fairy tale or story for younger children though with many illusions to the trappings and distractions of adulthood. Though easy to read, I did find it slow going as I never really got drawn into the characters or the story which made it a bit of a struggle.

Rating: “It is OK but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2021-02-26

Genre: Classic

Publication Date: 1935

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