In the midst of all this, is a wonderful paragraph:
“When you have four hundred pounds of beans in the house, you need have no fear of starvation. Other things, delicacies such as sugar, tomatoes, peppers, coffee, fish or meat may come sometimes miraculously, through the intercession of the Virgin, sometimes through industry or cleverness; but your beans are there, and you are safe. Beans are a roof over your stomach. Beans are a warm cloak against economic cold.”
I love it--beans are a roof over your stomach. Isn't that a great line, a perfect description? That's when you know you are in the presence of a great writer, when you read a line like that one. How many times have we heard, "at least they have a roof over their heads..." and that is a cliche. But to twist a cliche to make it true, make it real, is an art and only fine artists can do it.
Tortilla Flat is a fine book, btw. It's a book about a group of "bums," yes, but they are also the knights of the round table, and the book weighs the philosophical questions of materialism vs. spirituality, and how little material goods you need to lead a good life.
It was a nice break from worrying about SHTF and all of that doom and gloom.