Top positive review
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Well worth a read
on 16 August 2017
The quirky characters and dialogue are the stars of Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, with the actual plot-line enjoyable but a a tad drawn out.
The story follows John Yossarian as he repeatedly tries to get out of missions as a member of the US Air Force in World War Two. There’s a sense of dark humour as the characters’ efforts to evade their duty is the primary focus, while deaths and injuries are just taken for granted and part of the norm from chapter to chapter. As more of Yossarian’s friends are stricken down or battle with sanity, the horrific ordeals of WW2 are described almost in a blasé fashion. This unique descriptive method actually serves as a breath of fresh air in a twisted way, and actually helps drill home the horrors of the story.
The dialogue too nearly made me laugh out loud on several occasions, with characters failing to understand each other and repeated statements bringing a surreal, often comical juxtaposition to the topic that’s actually being discussed. This meant that, although similar conversations do take place throughout the novel, there can usually be a refreshing take each time and characters become more memorable via their quirky speech patterns.
The book did tail off towards the end, as the repeated issue of the squadron being punished by having their required number of flight missions raised again and again did get a bit old. Again, it’s done in a knowing way that it’s exaggerated and over-the-top, but it did eventually get a bit stale.
If nothing else, I was pleased to finally learn the origin of the saying ‘catch-22’; being the paradox that an insane military man would be relieved of service, but anyone declaring themself as insane in a bid to get out of their duty would be rejected, as they are deemed sane enough to be looking out for their well-being.
It’s well worth a read, but could’ve done with being maybe 50-100 pages shorter. The characters will live long in the memory though, and it’s certainly a unique read.