If the only contact you've had with any of Steinbeck's works is such as "Mice and Men" or maybe "Grapes of Wrath" you may not know that he could be funny, I didn't before I discovered "Tortilla Flat". Even though the novel is a humorous one, it is by no means a light book without flat and superficial characters. It is, on the contrary, a book that brings up serious issues in the lives of his well written and interesting characters.
I could just sum the book up with Steinbeck's own words from the preface of the novel, where the very first sentence reads "This is the story of Danny and of Danny's friends and of Danny's house.", but I'm going to give you a bit more information than that. The story is set in Monterey, California around the time of World War One. At the end of the war, Danny, who is one of the main characters, returns to Monterey to find out that he has inherited two houses. Since Danny has never owned anything in his life, he finds the adjustment difficult. Circumstances end up making him the owner of just one home, a home with several house guests, and this is really what the story is all about.
Danny and his friends are a group of Mexican/Americans who are no strangers to consuming wine, and lots of it, truth be told. Wine is how they share their time, laughs, money and even affection. They are no saints, they cheat, lie and steal, but yet they're innocent and compassionate. As the friendship unfolds before us we get to meet a very interesting character by the name Pilon. Pilon has a philosophy that every time he does something good, he must do something equally bad which leads to some very amusing passages in the book.
All in all, I must say that Tortilla Flat is well worth the time and attention, especially if you like humor with a dark and emotional twist.
Title: Tortilla Flat