This novel was not only bittersweet, but also bitterwitty, bitterfunny, bittertragicomic. Yes, it's bitter, but the hilarity and absurdity compliment...moreThis novel was not only bittersweet, but also bitterwitty, bitterfunny, bittertragicomic. Yes, it's bitter, but the hilarity and absurdity compliment the bitterness perfectly. This book has been on my 'to read' bucket list forever, but I was never drawn to read it, and couldn't get into it when I started reading it. "Too many names!" I thought. "To many chapters!" I wailed. "I don't read that many war novels!" I whined.
But my husband insisted I finish it, and I am so glad that he did. If you've tried to read this novel and couldn't get through it for whatever reason, I would highly recommend listening to it on audiobook (the reader is fantastic) during a long car ride so you can't escape, because you will hit a tipping point when you go from, "Well, it's funny enough I guess" to "This is brilliant!" Or, like my husband and others I know, you'll recognize its brilliance from the get-go.
Oh yes - what the novel is about. One answer: it's about a man named Yossarian who is trying to get out of fighting a war with many absurdist characters and situations. Another answer: It's about the absurdity and tragedy of war itself, and is clearly anti-war in its sentiment. No matter your opinions on the matter, and political differences aside, it is a must-read for any reader, and would be a great book-club/discussion book.
I must warn you: the last two chapters might be the most devastating and also exhilarating chapters of a book I have read in a while.
Oh, and if you love Beckett, you will love this book purely for the Beckett-ness of it all. I kept thinking, "Watt! Malone! Murphy!" while reading the story. (I can completely picture Yossarian saying something like Becket’s “You must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on.”) Only after finishing the book did I find some quotes from "Conversations with Joseph Heller" regarding Beckett (From New Orleans Review, 2(1971), 216-19)
Alexis (interviewer): “Are there any novelists who influence your writing? Who are they?” Heller: “Kafka and Samuel Beckett are two of my most important novelists…I was not familiar with Beckett when I wrote Catch-22; but I have since been amazed by certain very striking similarities in view and language-use in Catch-22 and Beckett’s early novels Murphy and Watt…” Alexis: “What about contemporaries?” Heller: “I think that compared to my present admiration for Beckett as dramatist and novelist, any admiration I might expres for any of the contemporaries would be small by comparison…”
Okay, ADD-esque review aside. Read this book at some point in your life. Or during your next long car trip. (less)
I thought that reading 'Jane Eyre' was going to be like eating peas as a kid: good for you, but hard to swallow. Thankfully, I was sorely mistaken! Th...moreI thought that reading 'Jane Eyre' was going to be like eating peas as a kid: good for you, but hard to swallow. Thankfully, I was sorely mistaken! The plot plods along at a decent pace, and the supporting characters are interesting (namely, the infamous Mr. Rochester); but what really drew me in was Jane Eyre herself. As a reader, you are drawn into her interior life so deftly and skillfully that, for me at least, I felt like I held this privileged place in her world, like a friend giving you full access to her diary.
Another thing I liked about this book was the style of addressing the reader from time to time (literally: e.g. "Reader, you will note..."). It's as if she is remembering that you're still there, listening to a story told over a long period of time. The novel is a quiet one, and feels like the color gray. But don't let that stop you from picking it up - it is the perfect book to read when it's stormy outside and you have a hankering to be an armchair traveler to 19th-century rural England.(less)