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Catch-22: 50th Anniversary Edition Paperback – April 5, 2011
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There was a time when reading Joseph Heller's classic satire on the murderous insanity of war was nothing less than a rite of passage. Echoes of Yossarian, the wise-ass bombardier who was too smart to die but not smart enough to find a way out of his predicament, could be heard throughout the counterculture. As a result, it's impossible not to consider Catch-22 to be something of a period piece. But 40 years on, the novel's undiminished strength is its looking-glass logic. Again and again, Heller's characters demonstrate that what is commonly held to be good, is bad; what is sensible, is nonsense.
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
Starred Review. It would be difficult to imagine richer material for an audiobook reader, comedically speaking, than Joseph Heller's classic novel of wartime madness. Sanders is the lucky actor chosen to read Heller's masterpiece, and he does well by it, proceeding gamely through the novel's staggering array of comic set pieces and deliriously woozy dialogue. Heller's humor is straight-faced, requiring little more than a steady, sure voice, and Sanders offers just that. Line by line, joke by joke, Sanders reels through the marvelous phantasmagoria of Heller's World War II, tongue planted firmly in cheek. Caedmon's impressive package includes a 1970s-era recording of Heller reading selections from his book. Heller is a delightful contrast to Sanders, his slight lisp accentuating a marvelous Brooklyn accent. Heller reads as if with cigar perched on his lip and turns his novel into an extended borscht belt comic's riff.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
It rose above the realistic novels written immediately after the Second World War. It rose above Mailer and Jones and Shaw. When asked why he’d never written another book like Catch 22, Heller’s answer was “Who has?” Of course he was right. A couple of the great wave of novels that followed the Second World War stand shoulder to shoulder with the catch; Slaughter House Five and Gunter Grass’s Dog Years come to my mind. Lots of very good novels came out of the war, first novels from writers like Gore Vidal and Norman Mailer, Irwin Shaw and James Jones, Thomas Heggens, who won a Tony for the stage version of his novel, Mr. Roberts, James Gould Cozzens, who won a Pulitzer for Guard of Honor. None of those good books compare. Catch 22 entered the language. For a few years the blue paperback with the dancing soldier puppet was everywhere.
Yossarian, the novel’s hero, spends the novel trying not to die in the war. A difficult job, since his colonel raises the number of missions he must fly from twenty-five to seventy, in an attempt to impress the Saturday Evening Post. Since I last read this I served in the army, where sooner or later everybody winds up working for Colonel Cathcart. I’m thinking that besides its anarchic appeal for youth, there were at that time millions of Veterans many of whom shared it’s cynicism about the organizations they worked for.
If you’ve never read it, you’ve missed a great read. If you read it a long time ago It might be time to enjoy it again. I suspect you’ll still laugh whenever Heller tells you to. And like love at first sight it will probably still break your heart.
I did find his writing style a bit disjointed and sometimes hard to follow, especially the time shifts and the inclusion of characters in flashbacks or flash forwards. I found I had to reread some passages several times or go back a few chapters in order to make sense of the story. Maybe the confusion was what the author intended. If so, he certainly achieved that with this reader. All in all, I'm glad I decided to include it in the syllabus for my American Lit refresher course.
P.S. I thought the movie base on this book was mediocre.