June 14, 2019 7:44 PM - by Joseph Heller - Subscribe

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....

Wikipedia: Catch-22: In a 1977 essay on Catch-22, Heller stated that the "antiwar and antigovernment feelings in the book" were a product of the Korean War and the 1950s rather than World War II itself. Heller's criticisms are not intended for World War II but for the Cold War and McCarthyism.

More at Wiki: Catch-22 in logic.

Slate: Seeing Catch-22 Twice: He makes this extremely daring, radically blasphemous argument—essentially that God is, if not evil, then hopelessly incompetent—most explicitly in the chapter about the soldier who “sees everything twice.”

On the Blue.
posted by Fukiyama (5 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It was love at first sight!

I enjoyed the book very much. I first read the book back in 1999 and like so much else, the second time through has brought out a lot more. It made me laugh, even when things get dark. And they do get dark, very dark. The "disappearings", the interrogations, and the naked force is pretty bleak stuff. The old lady telling what happened in the chapter "The Eternal City" was pretty scary. Yossarian is a great protagonist. I hate Aarfy. I'm glad the chaplain is going to persevere. His subordinate needs a good punch! I wish Major Major's fate had been spelled out further. Milo was a junkie by the end! But hey, everybody has a share.
posted by Fukiyama at 7:45 PM on June 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

I need to re-read this; I just snagged a copy out of a free little library a few days ago. I remember loving it a great deal, and then being utterly baffled by the sequel and my memory of the first book is still clouded by my bafflement at the second.
posted by jordemort at 10:26 PM on June 14, 2019

Like jordemort, I need to re-read this book. That could be a good thing or bad thing in advance of watching the Hulu adaptation.

The one scene in the book that has always remained with me, however, is the bomber simply disappearing into the clouds, never to be seen again. I kept waiting for "Oh, they ended up landing somewhere...." but it never came. It's haunting in its thread dangling way.
posted by Atreides at 9:00 AM on June 17, 2019

This really is a great book, a classic that lives up to its rep - and soooo much better than anything else Heller did.
posted by smoke at 4:08 AM on June 19, 2019

This was the book that changed my life when I was 14. I was terrified to re-read it on the 50th anniversary because I was thinking it couldn’t possibly hold up; I was hugely relieved to find that I was wrong. I’ve never watched the movie and I won’t watch the Hulu series because I don’t want to mess with my head canon, which at this point I consider an essential part of my person.
posted by holborne at 7:43 PM on June 20, 2019

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