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The Tortilla Curtain
     

The Tortilla Curtain

3.9 79
by T. C. Boyle, Gonzalo M.M. (Illustrator)
 

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A freak accident causes two couples-a pair of Los Angeles liberals and Mexican illegal's-and their opposing worlds to collide in a tragicomedy of error and misunderstanding.

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The Tortilla Curtain 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 80 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I guess I'll start with what I thought Mr. Boyle did well. He is definitely a gifted writer and the novel showcases his ability to bring feelings and settings to life. I was impressed by his mastery of the written word, especially his wit and cleverness to convey feelings and make situations tangible. I feel he did a great job of capturing the spirit of liberal-yuppie-suburbanite demographic, exposing its contradictions and hypocrasies as well as its well meaning soul. However, for all of its technical highlights, I feel that the novel falls short of being truly convincing or authentic to the 'Mexican' themes. To be completely honest, I was very excited when I bought the novel at the prospect of reading an Anglo take on both sides of the Latino-Anglo race relations theme. But as I read more and more of the novel, I was convinced more and more that Mr. Boyle's grasp of immigrant experience was shallow at best. It takes much more than the sporadic use of spanish words or knowledge of obscure traditions/beliefs/practices to truly build an understanding of a people. It is this shortcoming that ulitimately prevents the novel from truly telling the story from both sides. My concern regarding this novel is that people unfamiliar with immigrant issues of cultures will use the novel to--if even in some small way--form beliefs about immigrants or Mexicans. I feel that stereotypes on both sides were propogated, with immigrants and Mexicans receiving the shorter end of the stick. For all of Mr. Boyle's literary talent, I feel the novel was a disappointment. Let the record show that I am the son of immigrant parents--their only child to be born an American citizen. Through their dedicated work and unwavering commitment, they afforded me the opportunity succeed and attain a University education. I have gone on to serve immigrant populations through the non-profit sector. In a sense, I guess I feel that I am a part of both worlds presented in the novel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really think that is novel is especially relevant and poignant when compared to what's going on today with immigration controversy and racial prejudices in the Southwest. T.C. Boyle creates two vivid storylines, (which did not intertwine as much as I expected them to) one of an affluent, professed-to-be liberal, and outwardly humanitarian Los Angeles couple, and one of a destitute, self-doubting, and near starving couple recently emigrated from Mexico. This book does a fantastic job at opening the eyes of its readers to the true misjudgments, mischaracterizations, and blatant disregard of Mexican immigrants, and what expectations of theirs are never met in the 'promise land.' However, Boyle equally conveys a defensive, conservative outlook which seeks to protect American values, purity, and nominal safety. But the most riveting factor of the novel is the progression of the Mossenbachs from liberal outspokenness to conservative reticence. It seems that their humanist values were easy to maintain when secluded and removed, but when poor labor and some crime begin to infringe upon their lifestyle, these views are slowly overtaken. Similarly with America and Condido, we see two people once guided by a tremendous amount of faith and optimism, yet who, after continual denial and refutation, begin to lose hope. This book challenged my own views on immigration and what our outlooks should be, for the good and for the bad. My only qualm with novel as a narrative was the lack of a continuous, increasing plot. For those seeking to tie it to Steinbeck's 'Grapes of Wrath,' they might as well just read that, because Boyle's characterizations, while good, are not Steinbeck's. A worthwhile read especially for Californians.
Two2dogs More than 1 year ago
HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS BOOK. I'D WANTED TO READ THIS BOOK FOR A LONG TIME, SO GLAD I DID. THE CHARACTERS AND STORY ARE UNFORTUNATELY SO VERY REAL IN TODAYS SOCIETY.
ellex2 More than 1 year ago
This story gripped me from the beginning and the ending delivers. Everything that is wrong with the class system in the US is embodied here by these two couples.
cpr040304 More than 1 year ago
I read it for an English college course I took and I was hooked. This is a must read book and you will not be disappointed.
jewelknits More than 1 year ago
I read this as part of my Banned Books Challenge. First, I cannot really see why it would be banned. There IS a rape that occurs, but it is not graphic and really plays into the larger issue of the novel. Maybe people don't like seeing themselves in Delaney and Kyra; that's all I can think of. In a stunning social commentary that's as relevant today as it was when first published in 1995, T. C. Boyle takes us into the hardscrabble world of Candido and America, two illegal Mexican immigrants living off the land and their quest to simply find a place in this country. They face unimaginable hardships and the basest of poverty, while Candido struggles to make a way for his family and feels that he is coming up woefully short. Kyra and Delaney live a relatively tranquil life, cocooned from harsh realities until the day that Delaney hits a pedestrian on the road leading home, gives him a tiny amount of money, then leaves. No matter what side of the immigration debate you are on, this is a must-read, as it offers the reader more than a glimpse into the motivation that causes many to make that treacherous trip across the border, the ways and means that illegal workers are taken advantage of, and the various ways people allow their views to be influenced by others. Although there are some places where the writing seems to skim the surface, the stunning and heart-rending ending is enough on it's own to make it recommended reading. Don't read this book if you are uncomfortable with maybe uncovering your own hidden prejudices; or if you think that all illegal immigrants and poor people deserve the hard lives they lead. Sensitive Reader: There is some profanity, and a non-graphic description of a rape. None of it is gratuitous or excessive. QUOTES: A feeling like joy took hold of her, but it wasn't joy exactly or joy without limit -- she wouldn't feel that until she had a roof over her head. But if Candido had work they'd have enough money to eat for a week, two weeks maybe, and if they could both find a job -- even every second day -- they could start saving for an apartment. "Why should we be providing jobs for these people when we're looking at a ten percent unemployment rate right here in California -- and that's for citizens. Furthermore, I'm willing to bet you'll see a big reduction in the crime rate once the thing's closed down. And if that isn't enough of a reason, I'm sorry, but quite frankly I resent having to wade through them all every time I go to the post office. No offense, but it's beginning to look like f___king Guadalajara or something down there." Yes, he told her, yes, that's the way, and he was happy, as happy as he'd ever been, right up to the moment when the wind plucked the fire out of its bed of coals and with a roar as loud as all of the furnaces of hell set it dancing in the treetops. Book Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Lisa_RR_H More than 1 year ago
I had a hard time deciding what to rate this, because this is a book with flashes of brilliance and insight which ultimately I don't think works. The book follows two couples that live near each other in the outskirts of Los Angeles: one a rich white tofu-eating liberal American couple, Delaney and Kyra; the other two illegal immigrant Mexicans, Candido and America, squatting on public land. The two families first come into contact when Delaney runs over Candido in his car. Candido is able to walk away from the accident--Delaney sops his conscience by giving Candido twenty dollars. Next we follow Candido down to where he's camped out with his pregnant wife. His desperate circumstances are effectively told, and the contrast and savage irony with Delaney's assumptions (and Delaney's own lyrical nature column on the glories of staying out in the wilderness) is priceless (which earned it the two stars). There are flashes of brilliant insight like that throughout the book, when Boyle is able to hold out contemporary Americans assumptions and prejudices to a bright satiric light that kept me reading. I felt mixed about Boyle's characterization of the Mexican couple at times--feeling there's something a bit too facile and caricatured about his characterizations that depended too much on a sprinkling of Spanish and bits of cultural trivia. But what ruined this book for me were the twists and turns of plot. This book had the potential to humanize the plight of the illegal immigrant, but in the end I feel it's too easy to simply roll your eyes at Boyle's book and dismiss it because of the ridiculous pile-on of disasters. I almost put the book down twice at certain events and the conclusion made me want to throw the book against the wall.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A thoroughly maddening novel of race relations and progressive disillusionment, Boyle crafts amazing characters who are sure to spark emotion (mainly frustration).
Guest More than 1 year ago
¿Tortilla Curtain,¿ by T.C. Boyle, is a book with not one story in it but two. Throughout the book the reader follows the life of an average every day man living in America. We see his ups his downs and some unfortunate and fortunate encounters with life. Through one of the not so fortunate, Delaney the main character of the book hits Candido an illegal immigrant who as come to American to fulfill the American dream. This book does a fantastic job at going from the life of Candido to Delaney. We see the struggles that Candido and his wife face by being illegal immigrants in the state of California, the hardship they go through to survive the world around them and how in the end they come through together. Delaney and his experience are geared more towards the average American lifestyle. He is more worried about his home getting walled in than he is about having a home. Compared to Candido this seems selfish and unrealistic but is an excellent parallel in today¿s world. J.C. Boyle did a great job in keeping the reader entertained. With every chapter jumping back and forth one did not get lost but had the urge to keep reading. Telling two stories in one is a difficult task but when the author can keep the reader hooked on the story without discouraging them then that is an excellent book. As well as being a great story the book also addresses a few political issues many Americans are faced with today. These issues include illegal immigration, gated communities, and fenced-in communities. These issues keep the story going and ¿real¿ for the reader. The book was a good read that will leave the reader turning one page after another. The reader will come back to the book after they have set it down wanting to know what will happen next or just thinking about an issue that the main characters are facing. This book is a must and strongly recommended. Read this amazing book as it was educating and stimulating!
ARusthoven 4 months ago
“The Tortilla Curtain” by TC Boyle is a fictional selection that explores themes of xenophobia, raising racism, and the complex struggles of those who dare to make their own chances. The two main characters, Candido and Delaney, run into each other to cause a vicissitude of havoc in their minds and perspectives. Delaney is a calm and collected environmental journalist who goes by the penname Pilgrim. He and his family live in a privileged neighborhood where the smallest of problems are so foreign that they trap the residents in a jar of fear. These views are contrasted using a young couple from Mexico who resorted to illegally entering the US to make an opportunity for their coming baby. Without a home or consistent jobs, the lovers squat in the forest where they face a multitude of problems including rape and unwarranted hate. One of the more intricate details Boyle added to his text was the use of Spanish to name the members of Candido’s family. Candido’s name itself means Naive, which highlights the innocence of his intentions and heart as he tries to support his family. His wife is named America to show their longing for the opportunity that the country represents. The name of their child, Socorro, is quite possibly the hardest pill to swallow as it means “help”. A deeper investigation of this detail would beg the question, is the baby needing help or giving it? Boyle uses a second language to his advantage by making these characters have double meanings. An ironic and sad element of the novel is Candido’s efforts to help his family. His behavior is comparable to that of a coyote that the neighborhood finds a nuisance, a beast which Delaney defends is just trying to survive. The irony of the actions of Delaney combined with his freshly forming perspective of Mexicans make his defence of the animal frustratingly personal, making the readers curl and tighten their fingers to yell sense into his poorly influenced hatred of the animals human counterpart. It is the elements like this that make the book an exciting descent into the mind of a man learning to hate. The finale of the piece includes an attempted homicide, a dead baby, a great flood, and a different race accepting and saving one of another kind who once tried to kill him (okay, maybe twice). The dead baby-or rather, lost baby, turns out to be blind from a venereal disease America received from her rapist, truly concluding their American Dream. All hopes are lost with the baby as the book is closed on a cliffhanger of heroism from Candido to Delaney. The book dwells in the darkness of being hopeless and lost, and does not stop to explain a happy ending; in the world, the chances of those are few. This accurate representation of the hardships faced while chasing the American Dream is filled with pleasant yet dark irony and an honest view on the often pretentious lifestyles of those born into the Dream. The book will make you rethink your positions on others who have less than you and help you recognize the wickedness of those who do not see. The separation the characters feel in their hearts from each other is something even in culture today that Boyle is teaching us to get over in this uncensored, two perspective book. I recommend this book to people who have already slightly open minds, without this tool the book might be perceived as racist and one sided, much like the way Delaney thinks. Its complex emotions and mentalities are not for everyone, but rather for people w
dov40 More than 1 year ago
A great book. I read this for a book club discussion and thoroughly enjoyed it. The author was able to pull at my sympathies and empathies for both sides in this story. Food for thought with the immigration issue.
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