This was my second reading of Catch 22 and let’s just say, it’s been a number of years since my original perusal. I do recall laughing aloud, however, this time around, I did so with a guilty conscience and the urge to look over my shoulder to be sure I wasn’t caught guffawing at such a grim topic.
Having suffered firsthand through the absurdities of corporate America, I now understand that the military must certainly be their idol. While the inept leadership and uniquely individual characters in Catch 22 allow the reader to distance themself from the savagery of war, Heller’s writing talents then take you right into that cockpit with Yossarian, where the true brutalities of war unravel. Heller’s personal experience as a fighter pilot was surely invaluable as he details the life of the airmen and their unique coping skills as they endure the unendurable.
Were it possible, I would love to study under Heller and gain even an iota of his writing ability. His talent is so profound that I did not want to miss a single word and on the rare occasion that I became distracted, I backtracked to be sure I didn’t miss a single nugget of literary genius.
The entire book is quote worthy, so I’ve limited it to the few below:
There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane he would have to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle. “That’s some catch, that Catch-22,” he observed. “It’s the best there is,” Doc Daneeka agreed.
Haven’t you got anything humorous that stays away from waters and valleys and God? I’d like to keep away from the subject of religion altogether if we can.”
The chaplain was apologetic. “I’m sorry, sir, but I’m afraid all the prayers I know are rather somber in tone and make at least some passing reference to God.”
“Then let’s get some new ones.”
General Peckem looked at him with amazement. Never before had a reference of his to Shakespeare’s hallowed Hamlet been ignored and tramped upon with such rude indifference. He began to wonder with genuine concern just what sort of shithead the Pentagon had foisted on him. “What do you know about?” he asked acidly.
“Parades,” answered Colonel Scheisskopf eagerly. “Will I be able to send out memos about parades?”
My rating for Catch 22 is a 10 out of 10.
Please share your own reviews or comments by clicking on the ‘Leave a Comment’ link below. Check out the list of Modern Library’s 100 Best Novels.