The Tortilla Curtain
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While leading their lives in their gated hilltop community in Los Angeles, Delaney and Kyra Mossbacher accidently meet Mexican illegal aliens Ca+a7ndido and Ame+a7rica Rinco+a7n, and their encounter brings them together in a relationship of error and misunderstanding. Reprint.

Customer Reviews:

  • Tortilla Curtain review
    The Tortilla Curtain Book Review
    Having a setting in Los Angeles, The Tortilla Curtain is a novel written by T.C. Boyle that shows in great detail the way two opposing worlds become further distanced by the self-satisfying view of one world and the basic need for survival of the other. The first world is the American way of life portrayed by the liberal couple, Delaney and Kyra. The second is the illegal immigrant life portrayed by the couple, Candido and America. Each couple desires to live the American dream and must endure completely different trials as the two worlds clash together.
    Although the experiences Candido and America must endure may not apply to all immigrants, they clearly show how difficult it can be for many when all goes wrong. On the receiving end, they experience the greatest realms of fear, pain, poverty, and hatred. The novel opens as Candido is crossing the street and is hit by Delaney's car. Greatly injured and given only $20 by Delaney, Candido instantly loses any possibility of finding work to support his pregnant wife. Relentlessly, he must rely on America to find work each day to allow their survival. Camped out in a ravine, recovering, Candido waits for America each day to return, hoping she has found work but at the same time despising the thought that he, a man, is unable to support her, let alone himself. He worries about her. He fears the wild men in the world who would take advantage of the beautiful America. In the past, men have attempted to rape her and do succeed at one point in the

    novel which leads to further complications in her relationship with Candido and in her pregnancy. Candido eventually does recover enough to work again, however, each time the two progress financially, they are stripped of all they have and forced to start from scratch. The labor exchange is eventually shut down which also shuts down any potential income for all the immigrants. "Candido sat there in the ashes, rocking back and forth and pressing his hands to his temples, thinking how worthless he was, how unworthy of America, whose life he'd ruined too, and of his daughter, his beautiful dark-eyed little daughter, and what she could hope to expect" (322). Living in these conditions force both Candido and America to resort to solutions they never imagined themselves capable of. They eat from the garbage, consume wild and domestic life, and steal from homes and gardens, all in order to survive.
    Kyra and Delaney live in Arroyo Blanco, a pleasant community away from the crime of the world where they can feel safe and secure. Kyra is a real estate agent who loves her job and is the main supporter of her family. Delaney is a writer who loves nature, which is the reason for having chosen to live in Arroyo Blanco. Delaney had initially felt that "immigrants [were] the lifeblood of the nation" (101), however, his views begin to change the day he hits Candido with his car. Eventually Delaney blames nearly everything that goes wrong on the illegal immigrants and more specifically, on Candido. Such instances include his car being stolen, Spanish graffiti being found on a home, his discovery of immigrants camping out in the local canyon, and the canyon catching on fire. He blames it all on the illegal immigrants. Kyra has always been annoyed with the increasing Mexican growth in their city because she feels it scares away any potential buyers. This simple annoyance intensifies as the novel progresses as well.

    When the idea of a wall around their community is brought up in a town meeting, Kyra is immediately for it. Delaney, however, is not. He does not like the idea of being cut off from nature, but as situations worsen and more things go wrong throughout the course of the novel, his standpoint changes. He begins to feel that the only way to feel safe is to lock out the bad, and keep in the good.
    Overall, the novel establishes the different points of view about immigration very clearly and shows how greatly a person can be changed whether it be to survive or maintain a level of convenience and comfort. It allows the reader to better understand the current immigrant issue existing in our nation today and also allows the reader to recognize the importance of understanding all people. The novel is a good read and highly recommended for any reader interested in modern day conflicts that anyone can relate to.
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  • A Human Face on a Political Issue
    An outstanding book - meaningful and well-written.

    I've always liked Boyle's work and don't know how I missed this one until now, but it's very timely, with "illegal immigration" rapidly becoming a controversial issue these days. Boyle puts a human face - actually, two human faces -- on the problem and shows us how the perfectly natural and legitimate strivings of two very different men and their families can lead to mutually reinforcing misunderstanding and ultimately, dislike or hatred. Both the ecophile yuppie-type Delaney and the poor bad-luck immigrant Candido are irrevocably altered by their accidental run-in and its consequences.

    Boyle's various armageddons (he's got a million of 'em) are sometimes more than a little contrived, and this one is no exception, but this novel's message is powerful and believable....more info
  • Why Me?
    07 March 2006

    Why Me?

    This is a book review for the novel The Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle. Just to get things straight, I would like to start by saying this, I was not impressed. The title on the cover of the book is not even capitalized, maybe that will show you that the author doesn't know how to write, or that he at least knows that you should only capitalize important thing, which this book is not. As you can probably tell by this first paragraph this is not a book report by a fan of the novel. The picture of the author on the back of the novel is not very flattering either, every time I turn the book over and look at it, it makes my stomach turn with fright and disgust, it looks like a picture that belongs on America's Most Wanted, and the first thing it makes me want to do, is to scream out hide your women and children. If this first paragraph has not turned you away from reading this novel yet, than continue reading the next paragraphs. If you are unfortunate to read this book like I was, than you will often shake your head in despair and ask yourself why me?
    I suppose I should summarize the torture I was forced by my school to read. If you can stay awake from reading a summary about this book, than that makes one of us. Here it goes nonetheless, the opening pages start to sound interesting enough when a man named Delaney hits a man named Candido with his car, as he was driving down the highway. But that is about as interesting as it gets, it is all down hill from that point. It doesn't even describe who was in the wrong, Delaney claims he didn't see Candido and that he just jumped up out of no where, and Candido, the second main character (who is an illegal Mexican immigrant), claims he was just walking on the side of the road and Delaney purposely ran him over. To me that is a sad excuse as a plot starter. The setting of the book is in Los Angeles California. Delaney, his wife Kyra, and his son Jordan live in a gated community. Candido and his wife America (yes I know, really creative naming someone after the continent they live on) live in a park forest, in a small hut that they made themselves. Living in a park forest is of course illegal, and non-surprisingly enough causes them trouble in the near future. The narration changes every chapter between Candido and Delaney.
    The rest of the book is basically a conflict between Candido finding a job to support his pregnant wife, and Delaney trying to keep Mexicans out of his community. I already know there are prejudice rich people, and there are very pore people. So I don't know what boundaries Boyle thought he was breaking when he wrote this book. But he has broken some, probably not the ones he was looking for, I give him the award of the worst book I had to read in English class.
    The biggest problem that I have with the book, besides from it being so boring, is that everything in it is sad. I cannot remember one happy moment in the book. The only time I can remember smiling during that novel was when it was over and I could close the book never to reopen it again. The smile of course soon faded because of all my time lost reading the book, and the scary picture of the author on the back, looking up at me, as previously mentioned. I know I am going to have nightmares about that face sooner or later. But in all truthfulness it was depressing. The poor Mexican's first wife has an affair with him, and he loses the fight he gets into to protect his honor: he gets hit by a car, he can't find a real job throughout the entire novel, he starts to steel, his wife gets raped, he gets cheated from pay from a landscaper, he burns down the forest by accident, he lives in small dirty hut, his daughter is born blind, he gets blamed for things he doesn't do, a man (Delaney) pulls a gun on him, he loses his house, the few belongings he had in a flood, and his new born daughter drowns to death in the flood. I get depressed just remembering it. Just to help prove my point, here is a sentence from the book, about how Candido feels; "It was beyond irony, beyond questions of sin and culpability, beyond superstition: he couldn't live in his own country and he couldn't live in this one either. He was a failure, a fool [...]" (322). Delaney's life isn't all fun and games either, yes he is rich, but his car gets damaged a number of times: his wife's dream house gets burned down, his community keeps getting broken in to and vandalized, he marriage life sounds dull, as does his kid, he gets in a fight, someone threatens his life, he becomes paranoid and stays up all night looking at a wall trying to catch vandals, and a person he hates (Candido) saves his life.
    I have seen and heard of enough sadness in my life. I don't need to read about it in some stupid book. If I wanted to see more sadness I could just look out my car window, turn on the news, or look at kid's faces in the hallway. In conclusion, I hope I have caught you in time, to stop you from making a big mistake and reading a horrible book. I can honestly say that I wish I had not read this book, and that my life would have been better if I hadn't.

    Work Cited

    Boyle, T.C. The Tortilla Curtain. New York: Penguin, 1995.
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  • Worst Author I've Come Accross
    This was part of my literature class' work so I was forced to read it even after being disillusioned after the first paragraph. Boyle is a decent writer; his way of presenting imagery isn't bad at all - it is above average. It is what he has to say about characters that is just so cheap. He is too vulgar in a story that is a touchy subject. He over-describes much of everything, with too much symbolism, too much meaningless background history on the characters, and so on, that really, if all this superfluousness of writing was left out, the book would be half the length and would definitely get the point across in a much smoother, intelligent, meaningful way....more info
  • Biased and Slanted
    This book is worthless. Don't waste your time or money. If you want a biased, slanted, bleeding heart view of illegal alien squatters who are invading our country, just pick up the LA Times editorial section. I've heard this author is not willing to debate this book with those who are fighting to save our country against this invasion. Is he afraid of being exposed? It seems T.C. Boyle is desperately trying to make a buck off this issue. Remember he wrote this book in 1996. Forget this piece of junk and go for an honest account of the illegal alien invasion with any books by Lou Dobbs, Tom Tancredo, or Jim Gilchrist....more info
  • Immigration is there; like it or not
    With the new immigration laws being considered, this would be a great book to get back in touch with the reality of immigrant life and what it is like at the human level....more info
  • Highlights the Human Factor in illegal Immigration
    A must read for anyone who has an opinion about illegal immigration. This book is sensitive to both sides of the issue rather then casting judgment it paints illegal immigrants as humans and lets the reader decide what their opinion should be. Bravo!...more info
  • The Tortilla Curtain Closes on Parallel Lives that Intersect!
    T.C. Boyle's "Tortilla Curtain" forces a look at the issue of illegal immigration through the eyes of the down-on-their luck Mexican couple, Candido and America Rincon. The conflict begins immediately when Delaney Mossbacher, a nature column writer on the way to recycling, runs over Candido with his luxury car on the opening page. One cannot but help to feel sympathy for Candido who is now unable to work. On top of that, the young wife is pregnant and the couple has been living in Topanga Canyon in third-world conditions. Out of desperation, she decides to look for work as Candido recovers. Unfortunately, the couple's fortunes, despite Candido's ability to work again, seems to down-spiral further and further as their fate is left at the mercy of "gringos" who may or may not stop to pick up Candido for work. In addition, the couple is constantly weary of being picked up the INS or facing threats from unsavory transient characters within Topanga Canyon.

    The Rincon story is a perfect stark contrast to the life and troubles of Delaney and his second wife, Kyra, a workaholic realtor. The Rincons are struggling to eat and find shelter on a daily basis like the wild animals surrounding them, while the Mossbachers have worries, like keeping the dogs safe from coyotes, that seem pedestrian by comparison. Boyle's technique of showcasing parallel lives is an effective tool in painting a vivid portrait of two very different groups of people who live so closer together, but are miles apart in their everyday reality. Ironically, without being preachy, the novel reveals that ultimately, the two couples are striving for the same goal of security, but obviously, the issue is on different levels for the two disparate couples. Kyra just had a dog eaten by a coyote, so she wants a fence around their suburban paradise while Candido wants to provide an apartment for his wife who is quickly getting closer to the delivery date.

    "Tortilla Curtain" falters a bit when the writer's presence becomes noticeable. Occasionally, the storyline gets dragged onto the pages of the novel, verging on the use of the "deus ex machina" ploy of ancient theatre, thus keeping the plot points moving forward, although in an artificial way. Overall, "Tortilla Curtain" works because Boyle's writing flows freely and the story, for the most part, does run unencumbered and sparks truths about these two cultures that are becoming increasingly uneasy in each other's presence, but have also become increasingly entwined with each other in a love/hate symbiotic relationship. Boyle captures this essence within the two couples as their parallel lives draw closer and closer together till the climatic end which is overblown and feels more at home as a coda for a box-office movie.

    Bohdan Kot

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  • Thoroughly pleased
    Thank you very much for the prompt and efficient delivery of the book, The Tortilla Courtain by T. Coraghessan Boyle. The book was delivered sooner than expected and in excellent condition...not to mention a great read! Thanks again!...more info
  • didn't get the book
    I did not receive this product. I wrote a comment and was never contacted by Amazon or the provider....more info
  • Oh, My!
    A very intriguing story - honestly more a piece of literature than just a story. It had resounding characters that you pity, but don't identify with (or at least I didn't).

    The opening car accident reeled me in and that's what the whole rest of the book felt like: a car accident.

    Overall, I liked it, but it's definitely the type of book that would be nice to talk to someone about. Although I don't really know that I would loosely recommend it, as it is certainly not light reading, But I did think it was written better than _The Inner Circle_....more info
  • The Tortilla Curtain
    This book is a WASTE of time and is an attempt to undermine the American culture. I would advise that NO ONE read this book! I wish I had not but I did want to determine its value and I conclude it is a no buy - no read book....more info
  • Gripping Read
    A student of mine gave me this book as a Christmas gift. He had read it in a literature class and said that he really enjoyed the book.

    The subject matter is at times painful to read about with the utter despair that the immigrants find themselves in. I can only assume that the folks who found it over the top or contrived must not understand what it's like for immigrants to live and work (illegally) in the US or perhaps they haven't read interviews of these people? That said, the writing was really superb and I felt the white, liberal guilt drip from the pages of some of the characters.

    The book is an indictment about immigration and globalization, but there is not a neat, happy ending. This book will make you think.

    It's worth reading. ...more info
  • The Tortilla Curtain
    The Tortilla Curtain was my introduction to T.C. Boyle and I liked his writing so much, I have ordered two more of his books. The story part will keep your attention but the deeper meaning of discrimination and bias will stay with you for a long time and make you more sensitive to the people we encounter who are misunderstood and judged wrongly....more info
  • Good read-great descriptions
    I enjoyed this book but did not like the ending. Good character development and descriptions of the environment. Good contrast between the two social classes. I thought some of the living conditions of the Mexicans seemed overdone but my California book club members say "Not so". They could see it happening as described. Interesting read....more info
  • Boring, boring, boring.
    Holy cow, what a worthless and boring read. Did Boyle actually do any research on this? It amazes me how certain writers can just sit down, fabricate lies, and then draw a royalty check. And with a writing style that could put the sleeping pill industry out of business. ...more info
  • I love this book!
    I don't understand why people are trying to sell this book used? This is one of the BEST books I have ever read and I will keep it so that my children's children can read it. It's so descriptive you feel like you are actually in the book in your mind. If you haven't read this book you are seriously missing out! (and to the person who hated it because it was a part of a literature assignment, wait a couple of months and read it again, I think you will enjoy it!) I read this book in high school ten years ago and decided to read it again recently. It still has the same great effect on me. I love it!...more info
  • A modern GRAPES of WRATH
    Tortilla Curtain is a modern day version of Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath. The Mexican immigrants are the Okies. I'm glad this great author kept up the theme that Steinbeck started of the down trodden workers.

    Boyle's style is original here & quite different from Steinbeck's, but they are cut from the same pragmatic & humanistic cloth. Unlike Steinbeck, TC Boyle compares and contrasts the wealthy and the impoverished by interweaving their lives to startle the reader. As in all his novels, you will find humor blended with tragedy....more info
  • Nuanced irony on several levels
    Boyle shows rather than tells, like all good writers should. He takes it a few steps further by providing a morality play with a number of interesting juxtapositions. Some are obvious, others are more nuanced. One of the more nuanced ironies is that Delaney is a nature writer who lives in what becomes a walled-in community that is built in area where houses should never have been built (the area that is prone to natural disasters such a wildfires and mudslides). The immigrants by contrast are in direct contact with nature. When natural disaster occurs, the immigrants are able to adjust better then the nature writer. Boyle's writing is full of these subtle gems, which help the book transcend the story....more info
  • Sledge hammer
    Unlike some of the other reviewers, I have never been a fan of T.C. Boyle--but my book club chose this book so I felt I had to read it. I enjoyed the first couple of chapters, but it soon became clear that it was going on and on without character development, without sensitivity or subtlety. The characters are not likeable, they are either pathetic or brutal (sometimes both), their political positions are exaggerated, the Mexicans don't talk or think like Mexicans or other Spanish-speakers I have known. There is no sense that Boyle knows the Spanish language--which after all is not just English with other words. The language one speaks informs the perceptions of the world and the thoughts about reality one is likely to think. It's all hitting the reader over the head like a hammer. There is an adolescent insistence on gore and sensational violence--which is what I remember about Boyle from attempts to read him before. He hasn't grown as a writer (or a person, I can't help feeling). Sometimes you feel when you have finished a book that you have been in the presence of a great soul--not the case here, emphatically not!...more info
  • gripping
    First I have to say I am not an expert on illegal immigration, and do not live in California, so I don't know if this is true or not. I do have family in the area, and tend to think it's on the true side. Whatever the case it's worth the read because it was gripping. The bad part is that the ending was abrupt. There was no closure, and I am disappointed. I was into the charaters and now don't really know what happened to any of them. There's a vague clue, but no closure....
    It's still a good book, great for a discussion. Maybe great for students too....just to start debates....
    I found myself pulling for the immigrants, simply because everyone wants a better life. Aren't we all products of immigrants, one generation or another? I understand we're getting alot, and it's taxing our systems, etc...but doesn't everyone deserve a chance ? ...more info
  • reading two books at the same time..
    Tortilla Curtain is the story of two men living in two different worlds.
    Delenay Mossbacher - a white American citizen with a regular family life
    and C¨¢ndido Rinc¨®n - an illegal Mexican immigrant who wants to start a better life with his wife in the USA.

    The story of the Mexican C¨¢ndido is quite interesting told and you get information about illegal immigrants in an exciting way. It is full of cruel, but also realistic, events happening to the couple.
    By contrast, the Mossbachers seem to be a very ordinary family. These parts are so boring that I was on the verge of skipping it sometimes.

    While reading the book I was always wondering when they would meet again. I actually thought the lifes of the two protagonists were connected much more. That was the most disappointing aspect of the novel. It was more like reading two books at the same time....more info
  • i give it 10 stars!
    I'm surprised at how few 5 star reviews there are for this book. i read this book in high school and was one of the few out of all my classmates who didn't hate it. Very touching and moving, very real, believable characters, with rateable and real-life situations. The contrasting point of views are very effective and evoke empathy and understanding for both sets of couples. Wonderful novel....more info
  • Dynamite
    Not in a long time have I been gripped like this by a novel, fretting, twisting, turning to the next chapter with my teeth clenched, hands clasped onto the slippery book covers, waking up to find out we still don't know what's next. This book sucks its reader into a vortex, the same its characters are remorselessly pulled into. And Boyle is a master at varying pace; the more sedate chapters are just short and interesting enough they don't turn into an interference.

    The Tortilla Curtain is a hard-hitting tale. Parallel universes intersect to periodic, catastrophic effect, that of miserable Mexican illegals and wealthy, spoilt Californian locals. Candido and his young, pregnant wife live from hand to mouth, in constant danger from vagrants and vigilantes, not to mention the elements. For them, the American dream is just that: a dream, quite distinct from the nasty struggle for survival that is their lot. At the beginning of the novel, Candido gets hit by Delaney's car. Delany Mossbacher is the liberal whose beliefs fail the test of reality, writing articles on nature while his community is being fenced in, worrying about his estate-agent wife's dogs instead of the man he has almost killed and who is now starving on his doorstep.

    The book opens with a quote from The Grapes of Wrath. It begins where the literary monument to the depression dropped off, on a roadside in California. And this is another catastrophe of destitution facing indifference, then hostility. My only complaint about The Tortilla Curtain is with its ending, which also echoes Steinbeck's book (there is a flood, a life is saved, and something else happens which I won't betray). Boyle's novel is ironic, frequently biting and sarcastic. The Grapes of Wrath is pure tragedy. One can't have a Steinbeck ending without the same classical build up to it; it is just too brutal. Or so was my feeling: please judge for yourself, you will find it worthwhile!...more info
  • WOW!
    I consider myself a fairly well-read individual and as a 1st generation Mexican American, I thought this would be an interesting book to read read. Early on, it became abundantly clear what this book was about.

    It was garbage. The moral of the story is that if you want a better life, your S- outta luck. Settle for what you have and don't ask for more!

    "Materialism is bad". Isn't materialism and the right to complain what this country was built on?

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  • Disappointing
    I read this book with great anticipation because it was recommended by a friend. I am not sure what time period the author was writing about, however it wasn't written in 2009. I believe the facts were blown out of proportion on both sides and played into stereotypes that most Latinos are trying to change. While the author I am sure had the noblest of intentions he missed the opportunity to give real insight on the immigration issue, instead it glossed over the real issue and left me angry and frustrated. This is a made for TV drama. ...more info
  • Wanted to know the outcome, but not exactly a compelling read
    Rather depressing, but interesting to see how parallel lives with the difference being affluence and poverty along with illegal status makes all the difference when life happens. I recommend reading the book. It is thought provoking and an easy read....more info
  • It just makes me mad ...
    ... when Boyle goes to such lengths to create complex characters and then, for deadline's sake or waning interest, turns them (especially Delaney) into stereotypes by the book's abrupt end. And the ending is just Boyle washing his hands of the whole business. Bah!--don't waste your money for this cheat of a novel. ...more info
  • No Jack Steinbeck... But damn Boyle is good. One of the best around today.

    This book of the Mexican experience of trying to get into the US for a stab at the American Dream is a gut wrenching, miner in the hole, canary dead, run for the light story. His confidence in telling the story is what hooks you here. His characters -- the ones you will look for next time you are in southern California and they whiz by in their Lexus with the air on high going from point A to B passed those who are taking the heat for the rest of us. No, it's not a bleeding heart yarn here, but rather something that leaves the reader to decide what exactly is wrong with this picture.
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  • It never came. I double check the shipping address and it was exactly correct.
    It never came. I double check the shipping address and it was exactly correct....more info