Showing 61 - 63 of 63 annotations contributed by Henderson, Schuyler
This novella is narrated by Daniel Pecan Cambridge, a man who previously worked in numerical codes at a large computer company before essentially becoming a recluse in his own apartment due to his increasingly debilitating rituals, routines, and anxieties. His more incapacitating obsessions and compulsions include the maintenance of 1125 wattage of lights shining in his apartment at any one time and the inability to cross over curbs. This latter obsession requires of him that he crosses the street at "dugout" car driveways and that even regular trips to the Rite-Aid drugstore for medications and groceries result in "figure-8" routes.
He is clearly socially inept, with helpless fantasies about his pharmacist, Zandy, and the real-estate agent, Elizabeth, who is trying to lease the apartments across the street. Nevertheless, his upstairs neighbors, Phillipa and Brian, become his friends almost against his will, and his weekly visits with a training "shrink," Clarrisa, turn into a less professional and more personal relationship. It is this latter relationship with Clarissa and her son Teddy that develops into a moving portrait of friendship and longing.
Summary:Steinbeck begins Tortilla Flat with a tidy summary of what is to follow: "This is the story of Danny and of Danny's friends and of Danny's house." Returning from service in World War I (for which he had drunkenly signed up, subsequently spending the duration of the war driving mules in Texas), Danny discovers that he has inherited two houses from his deceased viejo. He reunites with his friends, who gradually accumulate in his houses, bringing with them parties, disasters, and holy visions.
This novel takes place in the eponymous Cannery Row, a place made up of 'junk heaps, sardine canneries of corrugated iron, honky tonks, restaurants and whore houses, and little crowded groceries, and laboratories and flophouses' (1). Although there is a narrative trajectory--the desire of Mack and the other boys living at the Palace Flophouse to throw a party for their friend and benefactor, Doc--the plot of this novel is really that plot of land Steinbeck describes so well.