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FirelightSpirit

Catch-22

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It's a while since I read this, but a few things have stayed with me: the humour and the awfulness and destruction of war and what it does to people. This is one of the funniest books I've ever read. I don't laugh out loud when I read usually, but I did in some of the early parts of this.

 

I think the humour really veils the horror of the situation for much of the book, so that the real horror of it comes as a huge shock. By the end it feels like you're reading a different book to the one you started out reading. I think that's a very clever way of showing the reality and injustice of war.

 

This is a book that has real resonance with the times we're living in now, I think.

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I read Catch for the first time a few years ago and was disappointed. In fact I never finished it. True, there are some good jokes, but there are also many pretty tedious scenes, like between Yossarian and the Italian girl.

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"Catch-22" is one of those love it or hate it books that polarises opinions. Myself, I'm very much in the former camp, although I'm aware that some aspects of it are quite flawed - its episodic, almost plotless nature means it can feel very uneven to some, as nonsuch points out.

 

Although Heller was writing specifically about the madness of war, I see many of the points he tries to make as valid to the world of business too, and this aspect keeps the book, almost half a century old now, relevant too. As a tiny cog in a vast corporate machine, the ludicrous army bureaucracy Yossarian regularly comes up against, as well as some of Milo Minderbinder's practices, definitely strike a chord with me.

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It took me a long time to get into this book and, indeed, by page 100 I was not at all sure that I wanted to continue.  However, having invested the time to get to page 100 - and enjoying a challenge in my reading - I decide to persevere and I'm glad that I did.  

 

I did see the funny side of the book eventually (once I'd gotten into it) and in parts I even laughed out loud.  It's incredibly well written and there were several words that I had to look up.  It's terribly difficult to describe the story, if there is one, but the horror of war is very clear indeed without being gory or gratuitous about it.  It's an old book, written in 1961, but is still relevant today, imho. 

 

Summary from Amazon because they can put it better than me : "Set in the closing months of World War II, this is the story of a bombardier named Yossarian who is frantic and furious because thousands of people he has never met are trying to kill him. His real problem is not the enemy - it is his own army which keeps increasing the number of missions the men must fly to complete their service. If Yossarian makes any attempts to excuse himself from the perilous missions then he is caught in Catch-22"   I'll leave out the catch so as not to spoil the story, although it is explained early on in the novel and it is some catch.

 

I'd recommend this book simply because it's so good but as Gram points out it is a love-it or hate-it type of book with nothing in between.

 

 

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I started Catch 22 some 20 years ago - borrowed a copy from my gf and when she became my ex-gf I stopped reading it but never returned it :(. I had also found that it had very funny moments interspersed by very long patches of padding. 

 

Incidentally, Joseph Heller reported that may people approached him in later life and said that he'd never written a book as good as Catch 22 - and his standard reply was "not many people have". 

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I read Catch 22 when I was about 18 because it was the in book of the moment. I liked it well enough then but not enough to want to re-read it.

 

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