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Something Happened Paperback – International Edition, November 12, 1997

3.9 out of 5 stars 102 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"It is splendidly put together and hypnotic to read. It is as clear and hard-edged as a cut diamond. Mr. Heller's concentration and patience are so evident on every page that one can only say that "Something Happened" is at all points precisely what he hoped it would be" -- New York Times Kurt Vonnegut --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Export ed edition (November 12, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684841215
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684841212
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #155,840 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Bill R. Moore on July 19, 2002
Format: Paperback
The title of this book by Joseph Heller is "Something Happened." Another title could have been "Life: The Book." This is one of the very, very few books I know that accurately and realistically portrays real life - life as it actually is - warts and all. The book I read immediately before this one was James Joyce's much-touted masterwork, Ulysses. Now, that book can, and has been, described the same way by many, and it is, in many ways, the very last word on realism. That said, it has much in common with this book, and Something Happened is, in many ways, the better book. Classicists and romanticists may well prefer Joyce's novel and consider it downright blasphemy to have it compared with this modern masterwork, but the fact is, this is a very good and much underrated book, and will probably be preferred by post-modernists and existentialists over Ulysses. The book is very long - nearly 600 pages - and does have a tendency to ramble at times - often seemingly without a point. It's written in the style of a first-person narrative, and this is one of the few books where you truly get into the head of the main character. That is the main difference between this book and Ulysses: unlike the latter work, which follows the adventures of three separate characters as they follow parallel courses and sometimes intertwine, Something Happened consists entirely of one character's thoughts and actions. And, since it deals only with other people insofar as they relate to him, it can get a bit solipsistic at times - however, that said, Heller's intention with this book (I think) was to accurately and realistically describe the thoughts in the head of a fairly normal, everyday American male. He does a rather remarkable job of this.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Most of us know about Heller cause of Catch-22, but this novel should be ranked up there with his most famous classic. 'Something Happened' takes a look at the ordinary day life of a succesful, middle aged, business man who is obsiously growing more and more unhappy. It's a fairly common theme in a lot of modern art, but Heller adds his own touch by giving characters strange traits, which sometimes seem trivial -like someone's last name or their physical stature- and always turn out to add a unique twist to the plot. Along the way, Heller never fails us psychological insights into Bob Slocumb, the main character, and his relationships with his co-workers and family. I would bet anything that this book inspired some recently popular movies, such as Fight Club and American Beauty -as all have strong themes of irony, comedy, and tregedy. What still sets this book apart, is Heller's uncanny capacity to twist logic and words to make ordinary life seem so bizarre and surreal. It is definitely not self-help friendly, and it will make you look closer at yourself and others around you than might have been used to. As Heller seems to imply, such introspection will most likely show you something you's rather not consider, and its up to you to address it and not ignore it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I suppose the first thing that one should know before reading this book is that the title is a bit of a misnomer. I spent the entire 569 pages of this book waiting for something to, in fact, happen, but nothing does until the very end (and when it does the book pretty much comes to a screeching, unapologetic halt then and there).

If you can get past that, you'll do fine with this book. It is written entirely in stream-of-conciousness, from the point of view of Bob Slocum's confused and lonely mind. Truly the best thing about this book is the characterization of Bob himself; his sheer humanity is such that the more you get to know him, the harder it gets to be sure whether you should sympathize with him or depise him. It is often easy to do both simulataneously. This book takes you into the darkest corners of the mind of someone who on the surface would seem to be an average guy, and really makes you think about yourself and other people you know, the kinds of secret thoughts that everyone has and that everyone is ashamed to have.

Most of the book focuses on Bob's relationship with his family; his unnamed wife, son, and daughter and his brain-damaged son Derek. There are some very poignant moments here, although it does tend to stagnate in places where he simply reiterates the same point over and over again. He also has a tendency to jump back to certain specific details of his past for seemingly no reason at all and retell the same bits multiple times, and in sets of parantheses which often last for pages. We are, however, rewarded for our patience with these flaws whenever Bob tells us of his work life, for it is here that we get a taste of the wry humor and snappy dialogue that made Catch-22 such a joy to read.
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Format: Paperback
A warning to all readers: This is a hard novel. It has none of Catch-22's hilarious, irresistably warm characters and there is no actual plot to speak of. It consists almost entirely of the main character's thoughts, on his past, his work and his family.
This book is certainly not pretty. Bob slocum is sexist, racist, homophobic, a womaniser and a bully, as are most of the people who inhabit his world. But he is more real than you can ever imagine.
Despite my criticisms, Something Happened is undoubtedly a work of Genius. Heller shatters the American Dream. It is a larger than life portrayal of the same world Holden Caulfield (of The Catcher in the Rye) is so dissillusioned with.
While you might at times get frustrated with the book's repetition and seeming lack of direction, stick it out - it's definitely worth it. You'll be rewarded with a true and moving insight into the darker side of modern society (even truer now, 40 years on).
Despite attempting a far sadder novel here, than with Catch-22, Heller certainly hasn't lost any of his wit. A hard but ultimately rewarding read, definitely worth a look.
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