Tortilla Flat

Author: John Steinbeck

Coming home from service during WWI, Danny finds he has inherited property in his hometown of Tortilla Flat. This is a novelty to him, and rather a burden as well. It’s not long, however, until his friends decide to help him out with this burden–by freeloading in his house! From that point, their lives are full of wine, women, and song along with long lazy spells and moral discussions. Quite the moralizing group they are, despite a large portion of their activities being of somewhat questionable legality–they always have altruistic motives, of course! Indeed, the form almost a Robin Hood-like band what with their robbing the rich to feed the poor, namely themselves.

Upon finishing Tortilla Flat, I’m truly not sure what me feelings on it are. The writing style itself is wonderful, if a bit old-fashioned; I generally enjoy Steinbeck. The content, however, is questionable. Certainly, it’s not politically correct, although it’s historically and regionally interesting, for sure. The characters are portrayed in an almost noble-savage sort of manner of which I really can’t approve. The plot is technically well written, but again, it’s mostly portraying the vagaries of these ill-begotten, wayward men and their attempts to rationalize themselves. Not really my style. So on the whole, points for writing excellence and for the snapshot into life at the region and time, but still not a favorite of mine by any means. I probably won’t read Tortilla Flat again, although I don’t regret having read it once.

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