Joseph Heller
Catch-22 is like no other novel. It is one of the funniest books ever written, a keystone work in American literature, and even added a new term to the dictionary. At the heart of Catch-22 resides the incomparable, malingering bombardier, Yossarian, a hero endlessly inventive in his schemes to save his skin from the horrible chances of war. His efforts are perfectly understandable because as he furiously scrambles, thousands of people he hasn't even met are trying to kill him. His problem is Colonel Cathcart, who keeps raising the number of missions the men must fly to complete their service. Yet if Yossarian makes any attempts to excuse himself from the perilous missions that he is committed to flying, he is trapped by the Great Loyalty Oath Crusade, the hilariously sinister bureaucratic rule from which the book takes its title: a man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but if he makes the necessary formal request to be relieved of such missions, the very act of making the request proves that he is sane and therefore ineligible to be relieved. Catch-22 is a microcosm of the twentieth-century world as it might look to some one dangerously sane -- a masterpiece of our time.


Reviewed: 2019-01-12
Reviewed: 2018-12-26
I was annoyed by this book, more often than not. I'm glad I stuck it out to the end, though. The story eventually stopped stroking itself and coalesced into an actual plot. At some point very near the end, the protagonist got to stop acting completely ridiculous and random. His actions started being plausible, his reactions to situations similarly reasonable. The conclusion was rewarding. I just wish I hadn't had to wade through so much stupid bullshit filler first.
No, I do not recommend reading this book. If you must crack its cover for some incomprehensible reason consider only reading the last 30%. You may not get all of the references nor know who all of the characters are but you will surely waste less time and patience.
Reviewed: 2016-02-10
Yossarian Lives!!!!
The first third of this book made me think about what a horrible writer Ayn Rand was. To have one idea, one that was pretty despicable, that could be easily stated in full in about two sentences, and then write scenarios that express that one idea ad nauseum... well, it's nauseating.<br /><br />Heller, too, has a single idea to present here: war, its operations and administration, its causes and goals, is simply absurd. At every level, absurdity. The worst thing that could happen is to be the lone sane person capable of recognizing the absurdity of all of it, to be inescapably dog-paddling in the middle of a pool of absurd.<br /><br />For a long time, while Catch-22 is merely comically absurd, this repetition is suffocating. It bears little resemblance to the world I am familiar with and to the way people behave. I started getting that same feeling I had slogging through Atlas Shrugged. "O, Come On, I get it already. I don't agree with you, but you've made your point!" Eventually, though, Heller begins to hint at events that just are not laughable on any level. As the novel becomes tragically absurd, it gets considerably better.<br /><br />The progression of the novel is pretty masterfully achieved. While I chuckled inwardly a bit in the initial chapters, and lost patience with the repetition for several more, and then slowly was shown this light and a meaning, I have to believe Heller aimed for just my response in each section. I guess I respect the way I was played even if, in the end, I'm not really convinced.
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