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Now and Then: From Coney Island to Here: A Memoir

3.44  ·  Rating Details ·  189 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
The demented Army Air Force of Catch-22, the lethal business world of Something Happened, the dysfunctional family of Good as Gold-all these, we have assumed, had their roots in Joseph Heller's own past. Now, more than thirty-five years after the explosion of Catch-22 into the world's consciousness, Heller gives us his life.

Here is his Coney Island childhood, down the blo
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Published (first published January 1st 1998)
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Walt
May 25, 2008 Walt rated it really liked it
Shelves: biographical
This is not a biography. It's Joseph Heller's reminiscences of his early years growing up in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn, NY. In the last third of this work Heller reveals the origins and inspirations behind his several well-known novels.

A very good read, especially if you're familiar with Coney Island.

wally
Nov 27, 2012 wally rated it really liked it
Shelves: heller
i've had this on the kindle for some time now...perhaps it came w/it? i don't recall the how/why it arrived/is on the device...and why i haven't read it until now is a mystery, as well...

...reading this...or will read...as i go along, after i finish his Something Happened

dedicated: for my sister, sylvia

contents
1. the gold ring
2. coney
3. sea gate
4. work
5. on and on
6. and on and on
7. and on and on and on
8. peace
9. psychiatry
10. danny the bull

i think could be that because this is marked as "sample"
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Dpcinh
Apr 27, 2016 Dpcinh rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Disappointed.
Not a biography in the true sense. Neither is it clear how his magnum opus came to be. All one learns is about a few characters in the book. For me Catch 22 is the book of the century and its genesis is what I wanted to know about.
All we learn is about his gluttony and the fate of his childhood friends. No details about his numerous girl friends, his near fatal illness, his issues with his literary agents and publishers.
Lori Kessler
Apr 22, 2014 Lori Kessler rated it it was ok
To be fair, when I picked this up from my book swap I thought it was a history of Coney Island, and not Heller's autobiography. Since I'd never read Catch 22 nor have any desire too, I had little interest in learning about this man's back story. I wanted to know about the old Coney, the one my grandma and dad grew up in! I'll have to find a different book to serve that purpose.
Dan
Aug 24, 2013 Dan rated it liked it
Catch 22 author's autobiography.

I loved Catch 22 and I wanted to love this, but the non-sequential structure that underpins that seminal book reoccurs here and it just doesn't work. The events he jumps back and forth between are simply too unmemorable. Heller has lead an interesting life so why he downplays his airforce days and chooses to devote so much time to a dull childhood, flavourless descriptions of bus rides and tiresome sessions with psychiatrists is beyond me. Just as we're getting to
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Barry
Sep 17, 2014 Barry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
Mr. Heller writes about his life in a fun easy to read manner. Part autobiography and part historical account of Coney Island, Now and Then gives a good snapshot of life in Coney Island before World War II and the changes that took place during and after the conclusion of that war.

Though mostly nostalgic, Mr. Heller includes some vignettes that give us glimpses into his life as a writer, as well as some of the background stories that later appeared in his fictional novels. However, the stories M
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Benedict Reid
Has some really interesting stuff, particularly if you're a fan of Joseph Heller's other work. But is unfortunately written like many memoirs as a fairly random list of events and details from Heller's childhood. Personally I really only enjoyed the chapters about his father, his war experiences and his time trying to make it as an author. (I love that he lists how much money he earnt from each short story... he wanted to make sure that readers realised how difficult it was to make a living as a ...more
Raphaela
Dec 15, 2012 Raphaela rated it really liked it
An account of Heller's life, as opposed to his writing life. I like Heller's sense of humor and honesty; there's an immediacy to his writing that suggests he's making it up as he goes along, adding corrections and footnotes as if holding a conversation.

I especially enjoyed the early chapters, because I'm a sucker for Old New York lore, and Heller spent in his childhood in 1920s Coney Island, so get ready for scene after charming scene of strolling on the boardwalk with Nathan's hot dogs for a n
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Kathleen
Aug 12, 2008 Kathleen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who has read a Heller book
This seemed slow in the beginning, but very interesting as I got more into his adult life. (Reading this immediately following Steve Martin's book, was probably a bad idea.) Enjoyed reading about the relationship between Heller's own story and his characters'. Very interesting, but my memory is too weak to remember books I read 30-some years ago. I think this would have been excellent, if I had re-read his books recently.
Brent
Jun 27, 2012 Brent rated it liked it
Memoir (just what is the difference between a memoir and an autobiography?) by Joseph Heller. For Heller completest' only (like me). Would appeal to those of a certain age who grew up in Coney Island in the 30's, 40's, and 50's. A lot of reminiscing about the changes, his friends, his family, his marriage, the war. . . Ultimately, a sad and depressing read by the man who wrote the funniest book ever written.
Henry
Jun 07, 2012 Henry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really strange memoir, almost no revelations about his work or life, it seems to be deliberately vague in certain areas although it has his voice obviously so clips along entertainingly enough and is a nostalgic insight into life pre and post war. Don't get me wrong, i still love his work but why wrote a memoir if you don't want to reveal yourself, it felt to me as if this book was written for the wrong reasons.
Walter Przybylowski
Heller is not a great writer, but his remembrances of a Coney Island upbringing have enough personal interest to get you through the meandering prose and barely disguised self-hagiography.
treva
Jan 01, 2010 treva rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've never read Catch-22, but now I'll be inclined to pick it up next time I see it. Not terribly deep or profound, or even very emotional, as memoirs go, but amusing and conversational.
Jonathan Karmel
I was disappointed by these memoirs from one of my favorite novelists. They are a little disorganized, and it doesn't seem like Heller put much effort into this.
Jeff
Mar 18, 2011 Jeff rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Could have done with less "Coney Island" and more "Here." When he gets around to his adult life, the book finally takes off ...
Rudi
Oct 01, 2009 Rudi rated it liked it
Not bad and definately worth reading, but by no means as brilliant as Catch 22. Probably also less insane ;)
Meryl
Dec 12, 2012 Meryl rated it did not like it
Boring and repetitive. There is a lot of unwanted and unnecessary emphasis.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.

Joseph Heller was the son of poor Jewish parents from Russia. Even as a child, he loved to write; at the age of eleven, he wrote a story about the Russian invasion of Finland. He sent it to New York Daily News, which rejected it. After graduating from Abraham Lincoln High School in 1941, Heller spent the next ye
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