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Catch-22: 50th Anniversary Edition Paperback – April 5, 2011
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Yossarian says, "You're talking about winning the war, and I am talking about winning the war and keeping alive."
"Exactly," Clevinger snapped smugly. "And which do you think is more important?"
"To whom?" Yossarian shot back. "It doesn't make a damn bit of difference who wins the war to someone who's dead."
"I can't think of another attitude that could be depended upon to give greater comfort to the enemy."
"The enemy," retorted Yossarian with weighted precision, "is anybody who's going to get you killed, no matter which side he's on."
Mirabile dictu, the book holds up post-Reagan, post-Gulf War. It's a good thing, too. As long as there's a military, that engine of lethal authority, Catch-22 will shine as a handbook for smart-alecky pacifists. It's an utterly serious and sad, but damn funny book. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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CATCH-22 also introduces one of the most insane collection of great characters in fiction: Yossarian, the Chaplain, Orr, ex-P.F.C Wintergreen, Milo Minderbender, Maj. Major Major Major, Nately, Doc Daneeka, Danby, General Dreedle, Nately's girl (not the description in the book, but Amazon's software will bleep it), Cathcart, Nurse Duckett, The Texan, Major ----- de Coverley, The Soldier in White, and a host of other characters. It is one of the most gloriously populated novels of the past half century.
This is a novel I can almost not discuss except through superlatives: greatest war novel I have read, funniest novel I have ever read, greatest English language novel of the past 60 years. But the best thing is that it is, on top of being a superb book, an exceedingly fun book to read. Even at its nightmarish, this is a fun, delightful book. And few novels contain as many unforgetable moments as this one.
The sarcastic attitude of this novel is conspicuous, and all bonds with reality are dropped with the first character introductions. The humor that has previously been criticized I found to be easy to understand, not monotonous, and a unique aspect to illustrate WW2. This is not to say the humor is for all, because Heller uses many paradoxes (look up definition of "catch-22"), simple one line contradictions, and subtle word choices to draw a laugh-all which represent the personality of the novel.
Yes, there are many characters, probably over fifty, yet grasping the names is not important at all times. Of course you quickly get associated with Yossarian and the other main characters, and chapter do reintroduce people from the early parts of the book. This may be annoying, yet each character is distinct, and there is little chance of confusing Milo, and entrepeneur, with Havermeyer, the elite pilot. In truth, the novel lacks a linear time, but chooses, rather, to define the novel through numerous character sketches, focusing them loosely around Yossarian. By the later chapters of the novel, Heller subtly introduces the gruesome truths of the war, balancing the early humor with more realistic look. It is through this transition that the weight of the situation is elucidated, and by contrasting the final chapters with the first, Heller is able to attract our attention and force us to analyze the war.
What is the novel about?Read more ›
One day, I was in a second-hand bookstore, and by chance spotted a copy of "Catch-22." I had no idea what the book was about, but once I started reading, I couldn't stop. This book, like Owen's poem, describes how frightening and pointless war is to the soldier. However, while Owen uses gory details to bring forth his ideas, Heller uses satire.
This book captures the personal fears and opinions of the troubled bombadier, Yossarian. He does not know why he has to be there, and he certainly does not want to die.
Yossarian stated that he didn't care if this opinion made the enemy happy. He said that the enemy is anybody who wants to kill you, and it was his superior who kept sending him out to get killed...This makes me wonder about the millions of soldiers throughout time, for this thought must have passed through some of their minds at some desperate point. The old men who instigate and plan wars are not the ones who will die. Rather, they send people out to die for *their* cause.
As you can see, this book really made me think. Yes, I thought, I laughed till I cried, then I cried for the senselessness of it all. Heller is a genius!
In this second read, I realize what so fails to appeal to me is Heller's slapstick, absurdist, repetitive and dizzyingly circular style of storytelling. At the same time, I fully realize this is also the appeal of the novel for many: it's absurdity. Indeed, time has tested Heller's topic of war having little logic or reason in the real world, mostly born of individual and governmental insanity, power plays and mere whim, male ego clashing and chest thumping. Few wars seem to have good reason for happening when one considers all the other possibilities of resolution. While leaders sit safely in secure offices on fortressed hilltops, the common soldier takes all the risks, offers up his/her body for battering, endures indescribable torments in battle, and often gives the ultimate sacrifice of life. Shall we debate the virtues of boxing rings for political leaders instead? Yes, war is absurd. And Heller captures this "crazy-making" truth in a crazy-making novel in which characters dance to illogical commands, spin in frustration, and dig themselves in ever deeper as they try harder and harder to dig themselves out. You know... as in war.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It was easier to read and follow when I read it 40 years ago. But now just don't care for the confusing writing style.Published 7 days ago by kjk
It may have been a relevant book when written but I found the story to be dated, unbelievable in many of the plots.Published 8 days ago by Bruce Thornthwaite
This is a wonderful book and I wanted to add another 5 star review.Published 16 days ago by MastaGebus