A former colleague of mine tried to steer me away me from reading Joseph Heller’s Catch-22. I cannot quite recall the exact wording, but he could not get into it all. But, as a) it is on my list of 40 books to read before I turn 40, and b) I can be quite stubborn if I really want to, I dove in anyway.
Now, upon having finished and pondered on the book, I do get his point: the first half does and awful lot of setting up, and the second half has precious little paying off.
The story boils down to Yossarian (our hero, a bombardier in the US Army) trying to survive the madness of war. He does this by trying to prove he is insane, in order to not having to fly more combat missions, which might get him killed. In fact, he’s sure that everybody is out to kill him, which might actually be true, as he is in a war, where everyone is trying to kill everyone else. He could get out on his insanity plea, but:
This circular logic permeates all of Catch-22, and it’s often worse than that. It might be viewed as one of the great anti-war novels of our time, but I found it to be a lot of effort for a few chuckles.
One thing, I’ll give it, though—it’s very quotable:
- Book read
- Joseph Heller — Catch-22
- It was love at first sight.