Those who appreciate Heller's humour can hear him chuckling away in the background as he deconstructs modern America. The wit is acerbic, dark and dry and there are no 'laugh out loud' moments. He views ancient Greece and renaissance Holland not as historical entities but as contemporaries, alive and well in the twentieth century. For him the past is most certainly not another country, and this book is, for me, a beautiful exposition of our modern way of government and society. As in his other books, Heller manages to be both poignant and funny. Despite being a very clever work, it is not immensely scholarly and is very readable and accessible to anyone, I think, prepared to put up with Heller's usual slow and relentless pace.
These are both the joys and, for many, the problems with Heller. There is no plot to speak of, a humour that could easily bypass people not familiar with him, a very pedestrian pace, a potentially disorientating jumping between scenarios and periods, and repetition of material. Fans of Heller's other work will be familiar with this and know that this is where his strength lies. People less familiar (or perhaps those who have only read Catch-22)can quickly get annoyed with it.
I would recommend this book to anyone, but with caution. It is not 'a good laugh' and it is not 'a good story' and if you have struggled with Heller in the past I don't think that this is the one to convert you. For His fans it is a must.