Thursday, December 4, 2008

Tortilla Flat--John Steinbeck

Year Published: 1935
Pages: 244
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 4/5

I really enjoyed this book. It is meant to be an analogy of the King Arthur saga, but set in southern California in the depression, and characterized with paisonos--several-generation Mexican Americans with a distinct culture and way of life. I adored the paisanos, whose main concerns were to find ways to obtain more liquor and who spent much time rationalizing their actions against their moral code--and always finding amusing ways to do so. The story was passionate and humorous. I didn't really get the Arthurian thing, but I'm not too well-versed in Arthurian lore to begin with. I will say that I read the story before the foreward (to avoid spoilers), and after reading the foreward was the first time it occurred to me that Steinbeck's portrayal of his characters was offensive to Mexican-Americans. Afterwards it certainly made sense, but as I was reading it seemed to me that he was referring to specific individuals who formed their own cultural group, rather than an entire ethnic group who adhered to a different set of standards. An interesting controversy, either way.

Challenge/s: Decades, Naming Conventions
Book-a-Week # 56

1 comment:

Teddy Rose said...

I read this book in high school many, many moons ago. I still love Steinbeck as much now as I did then!