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Catch-22: 50th Anniversary Edition Paperback – 23 Jun 2011
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"Never has a book been laughed and wept over so many times" (Guardian)
"To my mind, there have been two great American novels in the past fifty years. Catch-22 is one" (Stephen King)
"Catch-22 is the only war novel I've ever read that makes any sense" (Harper Lee)
"The war novel to end all war novels" (Independent)
"Blessedly, monstrously, bloatedly, cynically funny and fantastically unique. No one has ever written a book like this" (Financial Times)
50th anniversary of Catch 22's publication. Yossarian lives!See all Product description
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A true emotional mix, from 'laugh out loud' to utter terrorised despair.
A chilling portrayal of an ordinary guy caught up in war & the lack of freedom & power an individual may have in that terrifying situation.
It's also very very funny.
But note the description of Catch 22 at the end of the book (Yossarian & the old woman talking about the MPs & their brutality with the girls), it isn't always funny or clever just downright scary & brutal.
It's not often a book 'founds' a piece of commonly used modern language (Catch 22).
The idea of Catch-22 has become part of the general vernacular in most English speaking nations since the 1970s and most of us have used it to describe a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation. The catch stems from the idea that as a combat pilot, you can only be grounded in perfect physical health if you're mad. If you ask to be grounded though, you must be sane because only mad men want to fly combat missions. Having asked to be grounded, how do you then prove you're mad? Do you go on parade naked? Do you attend a funeral sitting naked up a nearby tree? Do you have horrific nightmares at the thought of flying no more missions? You can try, but you won't succeed because of Catch-22.
When you read this novel, you'll quickly discover that such a catch can only exist because everyone is mad. From Private to General, there is not a sane man to be found. Even the psychiatrist is quite plainly mad. The result is some real laugh out loud moments as we follow Yossarian through his struggles to be sent home alive. But when we read of the horrors through which he has lived, we begin to understand.
There isn't too much dwelling on the facts of post-traumatic stress, and if you didn't know of such a thing, you would find it hard to spot in the novel - it is never discussed, never referred to and the resulting madness seems part of everyday life on base.
I found I came to like Yossarian and think him the most sane of all, especially in comparison to the likes of Hungry Joe, Colonel Korn and General Scheisskopf (you don't need to know much German to see what Heller did there!).
I found Catch-22 wasn't a novel I felt compelled to keep reading, largely because of its disjointed nature - it does hop around in time and space a lot - but when I did pick it up, I flew through it, often smiling to myself, often with an eyebrow raised. I smiled when I finished the book because ultimately I really enjoyed it. I now want to get my hands on the film and see just how true to the book it manages to stay.