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Catch-22 (Vintage Classics) Paperback – 5 Feb 2004


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Product details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Classics; New Ed edition (5 Feb 2004)
  • Language: French
  • ISBN-10: 0099470462
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099470465
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (512 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 76,387 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joseph Heller was born in 1923 in Brooklyn, New York. He served as a bombardier in the Second World War and then attended New York University and Columbia University and then Oxford, the last on a Fullbright scholarship. He then taught for two years at Pennsylvania State University, before returning to New York, where he began a successful career in the advertising departments of Time, Look and McCall's magazines. It was during this time that he had the idea for Catch-22. Working on the novel in spare moments and evenings at home, it took him eight years to complete and was first published in 1961. His second novel, Something Happened was published in 1974, Good As Gold in 1979 and Closing Time in 1994. He is also the author of the play We Bombed in New Haven.

Product Description

Review

"Blessedly, monstrously, bloatedly, cynically funny, and fantastically unique. No one has ever written a book like this" (Financial Times)

"Wildly original, brutally gruesome, a dazzling performance that will outrage as many readers as it delights. Vulgarly, bitterly, savagely funny, it will not be forgotten by those who can take it" (New York Times)

"It is the Rock and Roll of novels" (Norman Mailer)

"Catch-22 is the only war novel I've ever read that makes any sense" (Harper Lee)

"The greatest satirical work in the English language since EREHWON" (Observer)

Book Description

One of the greatest novels of the twentieth century, now celebrating its 50th anniversary.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

138 of 150 people found the following review helpful By S. Pollard on 24 Jan 2005
Format: Paperback
People I know who have read Catch-22 have:
* Been unable to talk to me about it because they laugh when they're half way through telling me what it is they want to say
* Glorified it as funnier than any book, film, comedy series or stand up performance they've ever seen
* Said that they found it so annoying they had to throw it away
* Asked me what was happening after reading the first 100 pages
* Considered never reading again because they'd decided they'd never read anything better
* Had to leave the tube due to annoying the other passengers by laughing
Why do people love it? Because it is dark, surreal, immoral, subversive and hilarious. It gets away with it because Heller finds the perfect setting (a small island) in the perfect time (World War 2 - a dark, surreal, immoral time). But it all rings true because Heller was a WW2 airman himself.
Why do people hate it? I can only speculate. Maybe it's because there is no traditional plot-weaving. Maybe because the chronology is all over the place. Maybe because the main love-interest is a whore. Maybe because it relies on being absurd.
Its humour lies in words mainly so maybe people who don't find wordplay funny don't find Catch-22 funny.
Everyone should TRY and read this book. Even if you do cast it aside and lament a waste of a week's reading after 200 pages. If you love it you will really love it. I did and it's led to me writing an amazon review - and I've never done that before.
Just don't read the sequel.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ms. E. J. Curran on 13 Feb 2010
Format: Paperback
I found this book, through Amazon. I imagine it recommended it to me on the basis that I love `Trainspotting,' `A Clockwork Orange,' `The Catcher In The Rye,' `The Bell Jar,' `A Brave New World,' `To Kill A Mocking Bird' and `The Lord Of The Flies.' Through my love of 20th centaury classics, I persuaded myself to buy this book. Soon as I received it I dived right into the book.
The contrast between the breathtaking dialogue, tear jerking theatrics, laugh out loud comedy, un believable consequences, insanities euphoric state and humbling notions of this book simply leave you un able to find any sort of fault in it. A classic war story? Yes, but that's not all. It speak about humanity on a much, broader, wider and grimmer level than any event, war (OR BOOK ITSELF) should or could be able to and it does it fantastically. It's anti-hero climax and ability to laugh at itself is unique to its own. The book itself is like a deep breathe in. It's refreshing, elating and completely and utterly important for all of us to experience. I hate when it comes to this part of a review because you expect me to say something very `cliché' I'm sorely going to have to deprive you from that pleasure as this book is to `thought provoking' (there you go) to allow such horrors. If any one is reading over these reviews wondering if this book is worth their money- My answer is a simple yes. This book is humbling and most importantly extremely entertaining.
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83 of 93 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 20 Nov 1998
Format: Hardcover
On the surface, Catch-22 is a fine novel about the U.S Army Air Force in Europe during the 1939-45 war. You do not have to scratch the surface hard to find a classic, timeless novel of the fine line between sanity and total madness. Is Yossarian, the 'hero', totally sane, or utterly, irredeemably insane? You tell me. Catch-22 is unique in its ability to thrust confusion, frustration, despair, insanity, death and plain old fashioned misery in waves - and yet repeatedly surprise you with its sidesplitting humour. When you laugh, you are not laughing at Heller's finely crafted characters, with all their idiosyncrasies, but at yourself, your friends and relatives. Because Heller's situations mirror the daily stupidities that we all put up with, laugh about and cry about. Reading Catch-22 is like sitting through the main feature a second time - you know exactly what will happen next; you know that nothing can change it. You cannot help hoping that it won't be so bad. But, of course, it's worse.
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42 of 47 people found the following review helpful By ZDDQ140770 VINE VOICE on 11 Jan 2005
Format: Paperback
Its taken me two attempts to read Catch 22, the first thwarted by the books odd structure based on characters rather than story and the authors initially difficult style. I've stuck with it, read it and am about to re-read it.
Yes this is funny, yes this is a great satire, yes this is deeply surreal, yes it is a direct descendant of Alice in Wonderland, Nineteen Eighty Four and an antecedant of Monty Python, Terry Pratchett and much comedy inbetween. Yes the writing is brilliant and Heller's pitch is artfully sustained across the entire novel. But these are only some of the reasons you should read this.
It is foolish to pigeon-hole this as a war novel- this is about the world, and the way the planet works NOW. Characters such as Milo, the ruthless entrepreneur, Cathcart the idiotically ambitious general, and Yossarian himself ring absolutely true. However, the battle sequences are utterly terrifying as they should be and the sense of loss at the death of a friend is shocking. However it is the sense of the war as huge organism which shuffles people around often without itself knowing why that, although it owes a great deal to Jaroslav Hašek, remains Catch 22's legacy.
This is a book you can live with and can keep you company for life. In dark psychological periods this can remind you that being at odds with an uncaring world is not neccessarily a hopeless thing. When feeling politically helpless, it can can remind you of how absurd, how unreasonable the planet actually is and how the human spirit can conquer.
And ultimately, the book is redemptive, it shows there are ways of escaping, and that the sanest people may well be the craziest (or is that the other way round?).
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