Catch-22 Paperback – September 4, 1996
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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.
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But this novel is definitely not for the younger audience out there. It contains a significant amount of prostitution and some rape, with lots and LOTS of graphic detail in both ways (but most detail during bloody scenes, not much sexual details).
Anyways, this novel is a classic and will forever stay in my heart as one of the most influential stories I have ever read.
I really thought I was going to hate this book. Mat had read it and felt that I would not find the humor in it.
But I ended up enjoying it. It had humor that reminded me of the movie "Airplane". The dialogue went round and round and no where forward many times in this book, but that was the beauty of it. It was classic satire. I found myself smiling, if not giggling, several times during the book. (especially at the character Major Major Major Major). The absurdity of this novel has quite an appeal, and I am glad I had a chance to read it.
It is silly. It is old fashioned. It is a war novel. But you simply must try it.
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.
The juxtaposition of absurd humor, implacable bureaucracy and the horrors of war makes for a unique storytelling approach. However, the book belabors its points and is far too long and repetitive. Not recommended.
Top international reviews
Other than the chapters, Major Major and Mrs Daneeka, the book is a disjointed and rambling and at times it just poorly written, not making any sense. I found the Characters two-dimensional stereotypes and all the Women are portrayed as Whores. Please don’t get me started on the historical inaccuracies. I know it isn’t a factual book, and when it was written in the late fifties and published in early sixties it was a ground-breaking work, especially so soon after WWII. I also understand that this most likely inspiration for the likes of M*A*S*H and Dr Strangelove with their own take on the ridiculousness of War.
The biggest thing is the lack of humour, on so many occasions the not funny joke was repeated again and again just ensure it was never funny in the first place. Maybe it is just a book of it’s time… but that time has passed.
If the story has a lead character as such, then here this is Yossarian who along with the rest of his squadron are based on the island of Pianosa. Please be aware that those who may want to visit the island will get a surprise, as in this book it appears much larger than in reality it is. With a whole host of unforgettable characters such as Major Major, Chief White Halfoat, Milo, and numerous others, including one name which translated from the German isn’t very flattering, the names themselves can be humorous. All based on this small Italian island between 1942-1944 so the bomber crews keep finding that their mission runs keep being increased, despite the fact that they had been originally promised after a certain number they would be sent back to the US.
For the likes of Yossarian, he has had enough and keeps going in and out of the base hospital, whilst someone like Milo who has really grasped the black market and capitalism, sees the war as something to make him lots of money, even if that means contracting himself out to the enemy for missions. Along with his transporting of goods, so he is welcome anywhere, even if it means the Luftwaffe flying goods onto the island.
Full of incident so this is really a book made up of short showpieces and in some ways can be looked at as a series of sketches with continuation provided to make this into a novel. On original publication this was blasted by many critics, but at least when it came out in paperback it started selling really well, so much so that of course catch 22 is a phrase that most of us have used on occasion, and even those who have never read the book know what it means. With literary allusions and references to the likes of Dostoevsky, Dickens and Kafka for a start, this is not only just a satire, but a great comedy, albeit quite dark in places. Taking in the horrors of war along with the absurdisms in life that we all experience, especially when it comes to bureaucracy and rules and regulations, so this has a resonance with us all and will remain unforgettable and a must read for future generations.
A true emotional mix, from 'laugh out loud' to utter terrorised despair.
A chilling portrayal of an ordinary guy caught up in war & the lack of freedom & power an individual may have in that terrifying situation.
It's also very very funny.
But note the description of Catch 22 at the end of the book (Yossarian & the old woman talking about the MPs & their brutality with the girls), it isn't always funny or clever just downright scary & brutal.
It's not often a book 'founds' a piece of commonly used modern language (Catch 22).
I got this book from Amazing buy.
For your information i love to read books but i want to buy original so that our writer can earn good and make good art.
Tragic and hilarious at the same time; a story that will have you laughing out loud at the ridiculous situations the books characters find themselves in.
We've all used the phrase at some point, but it isn't until you read the book that you appreciate the gravity of the sentiment.
A must read.
The idea of Catch-22 has become part of the general vernacular in most English speaking nations since the 1970s and most of us have used it to describe a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation. The catch stems from the idea that as a combat pilot, you can only be grounded in perfect physical health if you're mad. If you ask to be grounded though, you must be sane because only mad men want to fly combat missions. Having asked to be grounded, how do you then prove you're mad? Do you go on parade naked? Do you attend a funeral sitting naked up a nearby tree? Do you have horrific nightmares at the thought of flying no more missions? You can try, but you won't succeed because of Catch-22.
When you read this novel, you'll quickly discover that such a catch can only exist because everyone is mad. From Private to General, there is not a sane man to be found. Even the psychiatrist is quite plainly mad. The result is some real laugh out loud moments as we follow Yossarian through his struggles to be sent home alive. But when we read of the horrors through which he has lived, we begin to understand.
There isn't too much dwelling on the facts of post-traumatic stress, and if you didn't know of such a thing, you would find it hard to spot in the novel - it is never discussed, never referred to and the resulting madness seems part of everyday life on base.
I found I came to like Yossarian and think him the most sane of all, especially in comparison to the likes of Hungry Joe, Colonel Korn and General Scheisskopf (you don't need to know much German to see what Heller did there!).
I found Catch-22 wasn't a novel I felt compelled to keep reading, largely because of its disjointed nature - it does hop around in time and space a lot - but when I did pick it up, I flew through it, often smiling to myself, often with an eyebrow raised. I smiled when I finished the book because ultimately I really enjoyed it. I now want to get my hands on the film and see just how true to the book it manages to stay.
The book goes into the sort of detail about how war is dehumanising to soldiers and civilians alike.
I find that there’s still a lot of wiggle room about the phrase of “Catch - 22” and it seems to mean different things to different people depending on circumstances.
Personally I think it’s best to think of it being that if one is in the military and don’t like a particular situation then you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, with no way to extricate oneself as catch 22 will always beat you.