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Catch-22 Paperback – 6 Oct 1994
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"It is a rare book in that it has the ability to make you laugh out loud and be deeply moved within a few pages." (Adam Staten British Journal of General Practice)
" Wildly original, brutally gruesome, a dazzling performance that will outrage as many readers as it delights. Vulgarly, bitterly funny, it will not be forgotten by those who can take it" (New York Times)
"Blessedly, monstrously, bloatedly, cynically funny and fantastically unique. No one has ever written a book like this" (Financial Times)
"The greatest satirical work in the English language" (Philip Toynbee, Observer)
"Blessedly, monstrously, bloatedly, cynically funny, and fantastically unique. No one has ever written a book like this" (Financial Times)
At the heart of Joseph Heller's bestselling novel, first published in 1961, is a satirical indicement of military madness and stupidity, and the desire of the ordinary man to survive it. It is a tale of the dangerously sane Captain Yossarian, who spends his time in Italy plotting to survive.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.