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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Title: Catch-22

Author: Joseph Heller

First Published: 1955

No. of Pages: 464

Synopsis (from B&N): "Catch-22 is like no other novel we have ever read. It has its own style, its own rationale, its own extraordinary character. It moves back and forth from hilarity to horror. It is outrageously funny and strangely affecting. It is totally original.

It is set in the closing months of World War II, in an American bomber squadron on a small island off Italy. Its hero is a bombardier named Yossarian, who is frantic and furious because thousands of people he hasn't even met keep trying to kill him. (He has decided to live forever even if he has to die in the attempt.)

Catch-22 is a microcosm of the twentieth-century world as it might look to someone dangerously sane. It is a novel that lives and moves and grows with astonishing power and vitality. It is, we believe, one of the strongest creations of the mid-century."

Fiction or Nonfiction: Fiction

Comments and Critique: Another book that readers either love or hate, no middle ground. I'm in the love group. I found the sheer absurdity and irrationality of the characters and situations fascinating and often hilarious. In a strange way, the book is too real, or at least too real in ways that we don't want to acknowledge -- who among us hasn't found ourselves at least once in a conversation that makes no sense whatever, with someone who refuses to think (in our views, at least) logically, and you get so frustrated but there are no words to make the other person understand and so you just stand there with your mouth open and a look of complete incomprehension on your face.

Another thing I loved about this book is how honest the book is. Let's face it, people aren't always up front about their opinions and motives, even in times of great sacrifice, but we all get by because we either can't see the truth or don't want to. This is especially true in times of war. Here, the author makes readers see the truth in the characters and it makes for a lot of conflicting emotions on our part. We want/need to believe that our military is rational, efficient, organized, and self-effacing; but it's made up of humans with all their faults and humans are often irrational, inefficient, disorganized, and self-absorbed. But what's more important is that the characters' faults are our faults as well, so that when we're looking at the characters we're really seeing all the small, ugly, petty, and ridiculous parts of ourselves.

I can't recommend this one highly enough; I'm putting it on my Keep Forever shelf. There's so much in this book, I wish I had read it with a group because I'd love to get others' opinions and comments.

Challenges: Banned Books; 1% Well-Read; Lit Flicks; 999 (1001 Books); A-Z (author "H")

3 comments:

Michelle said...

Tammy, I read this book so long ago and have forgotten quite a bit, but I do know that I loved the book too. I'm going to have to add it to my TBR (again) pile!!

joanna said...

I read this last year and loved it too. It really affected me, how when you thought beyond the obvious absurdity there was this other hidden absurdity, that of war. An absurdity that's not worth the horrible reality of war!

thebluestockingsociety said...

Tammy, congrats on finishing a Lit Flicks Challenge selection and thank you for participating.

Jessica @ The Bluestocking Society