Shall I make a shocking confession? Until this week, I had only read one book by John Steinbeck. I read Of Mice and Men in high school. I disliked it enough that I haven't read any other Steinbeck since. But I decided that after seventeen years, maybe I should give the guy a break. So I picked this up at the library.
I didn't actively dislike it, so that's a step up for Steinbeck. On the other hand, I didn't particularly like it either. Mostly because I didn't care for the characters, but partly because the blurb on the back cover made it sound a lot awesomer than it was.
Tortilla Flat is a sort of shanty slum place on the outskirts of Monterey inhabitied by Spanish-Mexican-Americans. After WWI, a man named Danny inherits two houses there. He invites some friends to live with him, and they spend the book drinking a lot of wine, gossiping, and doing as little work as possible. They do invite a mentally handicapped man to live with them, which is nice since he was living in an abandoned chicken coop before, but then they proceed to rely on him to go begging scraps from restaurant kitchens to feed all of them. He was my favorite character, called simply The Pirate even though he wasn't a pirate, and the way they exploited him was pretty shameless and made me dislike the rest of the characters enough that I won't be reading this again.
So. Yes, Steinbeck can write, but his characters are unpleasant and so is what happens to them. Still not a fan.
Particularly Good Bits:
Fruit trees were there, bony and black with age, and gnarled and broken with neglect (p. 13).
The afternoon came down as imperceptibly as age comes to a happy man (p. 39).
If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: R for all the love-making that gets casually mentioned, and all the drinking. Probably would just get a PG-13 from the MPAA, though.
This is my 12th book read and reviewed for The Classics Club and my 11th for the I Love Library Books challenge.