Monday, August 17, 2009

Catch - 22 by Joseph Heller

I finally finished this book! I feel like I've just run a marathon, my mind and emotions feel all rubbery and slack. I'm tired. This novel was a workout for my brain neurons; a serious digestion of word play, some almost too big to swallow, some going down smooth as butter, some felt like I was eating knives.

With one hundred pages left, I saw the end in sight, like one sees a lighted tunnel in the distance, but instead of getting closer, I felt stagnant, maybe even farther away than when I started, like some weird psychedelic dream. I was sure I was reading at least 10 pages at a time, but it was really only one or two! I wanted to scream by this point, until – finally - I crossed the threshold and the story progressed, coming to a climax that I expected not at all. I breathed a sigh of relief, reigned my emotions back in, took a Midol and went to bed.

What a book.

Our setting is off the coast of Italy towards the end of WWII, and flight bombardier Yossarian (no one in this story has a first name, that I remember anyway), the hero, I think…is quite inventive in his schemes to never get in a plane again. He's sure someone is trying to kill him, the Germans, every whore in Italy he’s in love with, his comrades, even his commanding officers are out to get him. His problem is the Catch-22. If he’s sane enough to be afraid of dying then he’s really not insane after all. Go figure.

Yossarian is the center of the story that everyone seems to revolve around; the one plot point in this isosceles triangle of a novel. Or should I say Bermuda Triangle. I liked it though. Except for that part I got stuck, I liked it a lot. Eventually every point connects to a part that makes sense. I enjoyed Heller’s writing style immensely, but it was a work out. He’s a master of word choice. The way the enlisted men talked to each other reminded me of my grandfather, a WWI vet who served in England. He talked just like these men, this sarcastic dry wit that emanates throughout the book. Perhaps it’s a way people deal with the stress of war. Each character’s personality was perfectly defined and unique, until I recognized their behavioral traits before their names. Some were hysterical. Some were sad. Some were just vaporless filler.

One part lunacy, one part humor and one part heaviness, Catch-22 is a novel for the ages. Everyone should read it at least once. Keep the headache medicine close though. 4 stars


TheBlackSheep said...

I just finished this one recently too. You're spot on with your review and oh so right about the Midol.

hamilcar barca said...

what?! no review of the movie The Time Traveler's Wife yet? tsk, tsk.

Lula O said...

Maybe I did see it and it was so bad I don't have the heart to review it...
As soon as school starts I'll be light and free as a bird. Perfect time for Eric Bana naked.

TheBlackSheep - I read your review a while back, and it was excellent. Everybody does seem to be in agreement - it was an odd book.

hamilcar barca said...

i have been told i will be seeing The Time Traveler's Wife this weekend.

Lula O said...

Ah, you're a good husband. Mine would just as soon be shot dead than see a romantic tear-fest. It would be all I could do to avoid his long, drawn out sighs.

hamilcar barca said...

i share your husband's sentiments. however, since i am a Time Traveler, the logic is i have to go see this.