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A Few Words on Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

January 22, 2011

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For a little bit of sadness and a whole lot of laughter open up the book Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. Taking place during WWII, the novel follows the antics of a bombardier captain and his companions while they are stationed in Italy.  The book is witty and well written.  I couldn’t tear myself away from the pages and found myself laughing at the numerous scenarios presented, as they were often outlandish and silly.  For those who shy away from scenes of prostitutes and war, this won’t be the book for them as they are often described in gruesome detail.

The protagonist, Yossarian, is a character that despite his shortcomings you find yourself cheering for throughout the book.  Each of his companions are so well written that you are emotionally connected to them, you either love them or hate them.  You laugh when they do something funny or they get in a ridiculous situation, you cheer for them when they find love, you cry when something bad happens to them; Heller wrote his characters well.

I loved the discussions in this book on God, though those of a more faithful nature may find them offensive.  Nothing not even God is sacred in Heller’s writings.

“And don’t tell me God works in mysterious ways, … nothing so mysterious about it.  He’s not working at all He’s playing. Or else. He’s forgotten all about us.  That’s the kind of God you people talk about — a country bumpkin, a clumsy, bungling, brainless, conceited,uncouth hayseed.”

Other discussions in this book involve life, love, and insanity.  This book is filled with discussions of insanity.  No one is safe from being considered crazy.  Not the protagonist, not his superiors, and certainly none of his friends.  Everyone in the book has a shade of insanity.  The rule of Catch-22 is a rule that is as insane as the people in the book and is hilarious.

Catch-22 is not a book for the faint of heart, but is worthy of it’s classifications of a classic and a top book of the 20th century.  If you can handle discussions of insanity, sex, and war and if you want a book that will make you laugh and cry a little then you must pick up Catch-22 by Joseph Heller.

I read this book as part of the 2011 Back to the Classics Challenge as a book with a wartime setting.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. January 23, 2011 6:32 am

    I keep hearing so much about this book but have yet to pick it up. Glad to see you enjoyed it!

    • January 23, 2011 8:43 am

      I really did enjoy it. It has so many outlandish situations in it and discussions that will really make you laugh! So if you get the chance sometime it’s one that I’d recommend picking up.

  2. She permalink
    January 26, 2011 6:43 pm

    I tried to read this two summers ago, but it proved to not be a very good beach read. 😉 I really do want to pick it up again, but for some reason it really intimidates me!

    • January 26, 2011 7:10 pm

      Yeah I can imagine it wouldn’t be a good beach read … but it is definitely a good read. I thought it was really funny and worth it to read.

  3. January 27, 2011 1:33 pm

    I really want to read this book. Unfortunately, I traded for a copy that was just too hard too read (yellowed pages, very small font, etc) but I will give it another shot with a different edition. Glad you found it so enjoyable!

    • January 27, 2011 1:52 pm

      If you can find a good copy of it, I would highly recommend trying it again. I got it from the library and they had a beautiful hard copy version of it from Everyman’s Library … it even had a little ribbon placeholder.

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