You know, that might be the answer – to act boastfully about something we ought to be ashamed of. That’s a trick that never seems to fail.
― Joseph Heller, Catch-22
“There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s 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 had 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.”
The book follows Yossarian, an American bombardier stationed in Italy during World War II, who is desperately trying to get out of flying more missions. After seeing his comrades bleed out in front of him during a particularly deadly run, Yossarian decides he is not going to fly anymore. Every time Yossarian approaches the number of missions required to complete his tour of duty, the colonels increase the number of missions required.
This book is a re-read for me. I read it when I was 21, sitting in my part-time job when I could read at my leisure. Oh, those were the days. And I read this book. And I just. Didn’t. Get it. As the years went on, I remembered thinking it was interesting but that finishing it was the most memorable thing about it.
So, here I am, more than twenty years later, and now I get it. My review comes down to this: I appreciate it. The portrayal of war is brilliant and sickening and hilarious and I truly appreciate it. But I don’t like it. There are much better books than this one.
- The writing. It is like trying to learn to dance and, once you catch the rhythm, it all starts to flow. But for me it was a steep learning curve.
- Once I got half-way through, I was hooked.
- Orr, the chaplain, Milo Minderbinder, Pfc Wintergreen, and Nately’s whore
- It took me halfway through the freaking book to get into it.
- I could not deal with all of the crap about the generals and the colonels. I did care about them at all.
- A lot of it was very very boring. So many chapters were there for the sake of being there.