Catch-22 has infiltrated the American vernacular and is considered a classic that everyone should read. . . and it took me ages to get through. I picked it up in March and put it down a few days later because all the circular reasoning and time hopping at the beginning. I started it again at the end of May and finally finished it, I must say it gets better towards the end although it gets much darker in tone.
“Sure, there’s a catch,” Doc Daneeka replied. “Catch-22. Anyone who wants to get out of combat duty isn’t really crazy.”
There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified at 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.
Captain John Yossarian is a bombardier in the 256th Squadron located on the fictional island of Pianosa, outside Italy. The squadron, lead by Colonel Cathcart, keeps getting their mandatory flight mission goal raised keeping them stuck on combat duty longer than any other squadron. The beginning chapters go back and forth in time introducing characters and the missions to Bologna, Avignon and Ferrara. The middle section, which focuses on Mess Officer Milo Minderbinder’s “syndicate” operations, nearly broke me again; it was so unnecessary and irritating.
The subplot involving “Washington Irving” and “Irving Washington” comes back towards the end and ruins the life of one of the few sympathetic characters in the novel, the Chaplain. There is also a subplot involving Nately, one of Yossarian’s friends, and the whore (that’s her character name “Nately’s Whore”) he is in love with that gets a bit tedious as well. There is actually a lot of whore talk and rape talk. Not a fan.
After several of Yossarian’s friends die or go missing in combat, while the mission goal continues to rise, Yossarian refuses to fly anymore missions and he is threatened with a court martial.