Chris's Reviews > Catch-22

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
91373
's review
Apr 18, 14

bookshelves: unfinished, folio-society-wishlist

I have attempted to read this book on two separate occasions and I couldn't get beyond 100 pages either time. I do believe that this has more to do with me than the book and I plan on making a third attempt at some point in the future.

Currently it sits on my bookshelf and sometimes (when I have a few too many beers) we have a talk.

Me: Hi.
Catch-22: Oh, hi.
Me: How are you feeling?
Catch-22: I've been better.
Me: Don't be upset. It's not you. It's me.
Catch-22: I know that.
Me: My friends tell me I'm an idiot for ending our relationship.
Catch-22: I agree.
Me: I'm sure the reason I don't laugh or enjoy myself when I'm with you has more to do with my own flaws than with yours.
Catch-22: Of course. I'm flawless.
Me: I don't know if I would go that far.
Catch-22: Well, you've already admitted that it's your fault so I don't know if you're the best person to be judging whether or not I'm flawed.
Me: Hey, now! I didn't laugh once when I was with you.
Catch-22: I've been forced to sit on this bookshelf for years while you plop in front of the TV to laugh at Will Ferrell movies. I'll give you Anchorman but Step Brothers? Don't talk to me about what is or isn't funny.
Me: The sleepwalking scene in that movie is pure genius!
Catch-22: I rest my case.
Me: Ok, ok. You're right. I promise you that one day I'll be mature and enlightened enough to appreciate you and when that day comes, you and I will have some fun together.
Catch-22: I won't hold my breath.
856 likes · likeflag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Catch-22.
sign in »

Comments (showing 1-50 of 98) (98 new)


message 1: by Chris (last edited Mar 19, 2009 02:01PM) (new) - added it

Chris David -- I enjoyed your comment but somehow it got deleted!? Just so you know, my whiskey bottle is a jealous prick.


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

I deleted it. I had post-comment remorse.

Carry on. Nothing to see here.

(Good review -- but I'm still planning to read this book during '2009: The Year of American Classics.')


Naeem catch-22: Chris thinks it takes enlightened maturity to read me.

Naeem: whereas not a single one of your characters display either maturity or enlightenment on any of your pages.

catch-22: catch-22

Naeem: In fact, Chris' humor resembles your own; maybe he is jealous/envious.

catch-22: what can i do? i get a bad rep just because I am labeled a "classic."

Naeem: at least, your author never wrote anything else worth a nickle.

Catch-22: I was the one.




message 4: by Bonnie (last edited Jul 25, 2009 09:13PM) (new)

Bonnie There was a time when reading Joseph Heller's classic satire on the murderous insanity of war was nothing less than a rite of passage. Echoes of Yossarian, the wise-ass bombardier who was too smart to die but not smart enough to find a way out of his predicament, could be heard throughout the counterculture. As a result, it's impossible not to consider Catch-22 to be something of a period piece.

Back when I read this, everyone read it. Today? I don't know if I'd re-read.


message 5: by Laura (new) - added it

Laura Gardner I couldn't get into this book either. I got to about page 70...I tried so hard but just could not force myself to go further.


Naeem There is something wrong here. I hardly ever read books within the western canon anymore -- my body has been expelling that propaganda. But this is not just a great book, it is one of the masterpieces of Literature. I don't think there is a better war novel. I don't think there is a funnier book. Period. This is a deadly serious book which has everything you could want except for easiness. Kenny G it ain't.

Perhaps what frightens people is the seemingly refracted nature of the narrative structure. But the temporal shifts are by no means random. They are as tightly wound as a tourniquet and as finely calibrated as an ocean ready wooden raft.

Greatness in literature is not merely a matter of taste. (Indeed, taste is not even a matter of taste.) This is a book about which I feel confident saying this: if you don't appreciate it, I fear there is something wrong.

Will I ever figure out what? I'm not holding my breath.


message 7: by Julie (last edited Feb 11, 2010 03:43PM) (new)

Julie a book i am still on the fence about attempting to read.


Phantom Initially, I struggled reading this book as well. I stopped after reading like 25 or pages into it; thinking that I must be missing something because I felt so lost.

But then, a few days later, I summoned up enough conviction to read this Catch 22 and ended up discovering one of my all time favorite pieces of literature.

Don't give up on it, just wait until you get into the right mood to read it =)


message 9: by David (new) - added it

David I borrowed this from a library and didn't get far before the due date came around. I was enjoying it I think, but a different book stole my attention. Will give it another go this year! Hopefully sometime in the next two months.


Maria I would recommend that you give this another chance it is hilarious but it also shocked me, I was reading with my mouth hanging open at one point; nothing less than a masterpiece.


Linden A. LOL! I read it in audiobook format and I recommend that for your third go. The reader uses a different voice for each character and it's very engaging.


Alicia Martell I felt the same way. There wereaybe one or two feeble chuckles, easily confused with a sneeze, but that's it. It tries too hard too often.


message 13: by Lisa (new) - rated it 1 star

Lisa Weber I dunno. Phantom says to try it again, and I might. Maybe in print instead of audio book? I love audio books, and the reader seems good, but by the end of disc 1, I couldn't believe I had only suffered through one. Seemed like 10. 14 more to go? Ouch. Unlike Linden, I didn't find it engaging, I found it grating. Really. Made my teeth hurt while driving. That's just bad.


message 14: by Hayley (new)

Hayley I started this book (for school, admittedly), lost my copy on the plane to Florida, and didn't miss it too much, to be honest.

I respect people who like it, and maybe I'm too young/not in the right frame of mind yet to enjoy this. But I don't think I'll be picking it back up anytime soon.


message 15: by Anne (new) - added it

Anne 20 years ago it took me three times to get through the book but it ended up being an all time favorite. I'm finally rereading it. AS I recall you need to get through the first 1/3 of it to get the flow.


message 16: by Jessica (new) - added it

Jessica I started this book today for the 4th time, I must finish it


message 17: by Robby (new) - added it

Robby King I got to page 40 and stopped. I plan on picking up sometime in the future and finishing it.


Lauren It really took me a long time to get through the second half of this book. It gets a little tiresome.


message 19: by Gregg (new)

Gregg Ha Ha...that's hysterical...I had the same encounter with To Kill a Mockinbird....it took me 4x to get through it.


message 20: by Tracey Allen (new)

Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum Hilarious review!! I can't get through Catch-22 either! Excellent dialogue, had me laughing out loud!


Tacojew22 I had the same problem with Lord Jim, except it took about 10 tries for me...don't take this the wrong way, but you might want to get stoned and read it...this book is way out there


Janet The group 50 Books to Read before You Die is reading this book together starting August 20 -- maybe you need somebody to scream at or whatever while you read it...


message 23: by Andrew (new)

Andrew ha, ha, that is brilliant and exactly my experience!


Terri Jowett It took me 15 years to read this book, but I did it, and now I can say I have read Catch 22. I never want to see it again!


message 25: by Meghan (new)

Meghan I had the same conversation last night


message 26: by Chloe (new) - added it

Chloe Shiny I have had the exact same thing; two attempts and never getting past page 100. One day.....


Geoffrey Sim That was golden. I've reading this book on and off for four months. I'm a completionist so I can't just throw it off. I keep coming back cause I feel guilty. Thus still struggling to the very end.


Naeem Geoffrey,

I don't think it is possible to comprehend the parts without knowing how they fit together as a whole and what they are parts of. Your "completionist" strategy might result from this insight. I just want to add one thing. Speed is sometimes important. To read a book quickly is not necessarily to ignore its micro-details. It is also to keep one eye towards the whole. The second time through a book is when we can savor the fine brush strokes because we glimpse how they make the whole.

The inability to speed up their reading and thereby to have lost themselves in the parts, that might be why so many people on this thread have missed the overall genius of this book.

I am still wondering how so many people can have trouble with one of the towering achievements of Western literature. This is my latest guess. And no, I don't believe in the ideology of individual taste.


message 29: by Chris (new) - added it

Chris Naeem -- You'll be happy to know that I'm currently reading this book and enjoying it immensely. I've been sidetracked for the last month or so due to a class I'm taking but I'm looking forward to getting back into it. I'm nearly 200 pages in and digging it. The third time is the charm, I guess.


Geoffrey Sim Naeem wrote: "Geoffrey,

I don't think it is possible to comprehend the parts without knowing how they fit together as a whole and what they are parts of. Your "completionist" strategy might result from this in..."


Well sir you bring up a good point. Perhaps reading faster will give me a chance to read it a second time. I do get the puns and the absurdity that goes on in the story, that's all good without much needed explanation.

Your question about why so many people have trouble with this book, I don't know. I do know I find it too wordy -- I can't speed read yet. The other point is that I don't understand a thing about military ranking and many other military ideologies. When Heller is writing about a Major, Col or General they all look the same in my head. I don't get what they are fighting about except for pride. A form of pride I don't really care for or need.

Furthermore, Milo starting the whole shipment business having air fighters fly in eggs from all over the World so his syndicate can prosper buy paying more, so absurd I couldn't even laugh all it took was so much effort to try to understand what was going on. I should of just skipped all that.
And Yossarian going off on sex-capades in Italy -- whatever man, is Heller trying to say hey tons of hopeless men go to China or Thailand to do that too? I missed the pun!


Naeem Geoffrey,

you said: "The other point is that I don't understand a thing about military ranking and many other military ideologies. When Heller is writing about a Major, Col or General they all look the same in my head. I don't get what they are fighting about except for pride. A form of pride I don't really care for or need."

Yes, exactly. This is exactly the point that Heller is raising. Along with Vonnegut's Slaughter House Five, this book is considered one of the great anti-war novels. It matters very much that Heller is writing about a period of WWII in which the allies have already won. The absurdities that Heller raises are very damaging to the generally held claim that WWII was the good war. Perhaps it was. But Heller shows that the end game in that war was far from good.

You say: "Milo starting the whole shipment business having air fighters fly in eggs from all over the World so his syndicate can prosper buy paying more, so absurd I couldn't even laugh all it took was so much effort to try to understand what was going on. I should of just skipped all that."

On the contrary, Milo is one of the central characters. Through him Heller intuits the political economy of the war. He shows war's subordination to capitalism. I once spend many hours figuring out how Milo could make a profit by buying eggs at 5 cents and selling them at 3 cents. The madness of the plot and of his character's motivations seem like they are scatter gun. But not so. It is a very tightly structured and conceived plot which has been fractured by its temporal dislocations. Heller does this on purpose so as to disorder the order. There is no detail in the book that is insignificant. I still teach the scene when the young idealist soldier confronts the dirty very old Italian man. It is all very funny but the kind of funny that makes you cry.

You say: "And Yossarian going off on sex-capades in Italy -- whatever man, is Heller trying to say hey tons of hopeless men go to China or Thailand to do that too? I missed the pun!"

Heller was a pilot in WWII. It took him more than a decade to write it. The book was initially NOT a hot commodity. It became so during the late 60s and 70s when reader's were looking for a sensibility that would express the absurdity of war. I don't think there is a pun in Yossarian's sex-capades. More so, I'd say Heller is trying to show the gap between the ideologues of war (the officers mostly but not exclusively) and the common soldiers -- almost all of whom had only one motivation, namely, to find a way out of the madness and absurdity. And often, the sex-capades, were a temporary exit.

If I have a sense for all this, it is not because I have done an extensive study of the book. Rather, I had a college professor, Professor Burhans at MSU, who not only staged parts of the book for our class but also helped us to glean its organizational structure. And because, I have read this book three times.


message 32: by Katie (new) - added it

Katie I'm having trouble with this book too! I just cannot get into it at all.


Steve no dude, it's the book. It's just not good.


message 34: by Donna (new)

Donna I couldn't finish it either. We had no chemistry.


message 35: by Melody (new) - added it

Melody This is my third attempt. I'm going to try to make it work.


message 36: by Shruti (new)

Shruti Shubham Don't know about the book but you are indeed funny!haha! :)


message 37: by Alyse (new) - rated it 1 star

Alyse I think i am the problem as well. I was required to read it for school, and probably burshed over it without really paying attention. I did not understand it nor thought it was funny. I did; however, find you funny.


message 38: by Gary (new)

Gary Tomlinson I'm on page 103, so I've beaten you. But I think it's about to be "archived" (Kindle's version of the shelf"). With this many good reviews, it's gotta be my fault I dont get it, yeah?


message 39: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie You've mad me feel so much better, I've tried sooo hard to read this seeing as its a classi but there's no distinguishing plot or character points to me and everything seems so hard to continue to read, I'm honestly a huge lover of all lit but this was too much ...


message 40: by Bigadjaye (new)

Bigadjaye I've tried twice also. I just can't keep up with all the characters. Perhaps it's just about time for a third attempt...


Acohen OMG I'm not the only one to struggle through this book. What's wrong with it? It's funny yet so hard to keep reading.


message 42: by Kristin (KC) (new) - added it

Kristin (KC) This is great :)


message 43: by Aric (new)

Aric same with me... I had a hard time hacking my way through it. I saw it was on all these top book lists... so I figure something's just wrong with me


message 44: by Julie (new)

Julie I read the first chapter, and found it like one of those witty tv shows, where the banter is breathless. I can see myself reading a chapter as I find the book on bookshelves everywhere, being classic.
Yossarian is a young man and it makes sense that his mind whirs like a motor you'd fit into a gunner's mess tent.


EsmeWatson It took me six months to read Catch 22. I rarely give up on books these days so I was determined to stick it out, regardless of how long it took. At about the three month mark, a friend told me that getting to the end was close to the most rewarding thing he has done in his adult life, which spurred me to read on. I hit a point where I became so in love with the characters it became an easy read, and I was almost sad to get to the end. I recommend slugging through as the experience is indeed a rewarding one.


message 46: by Kathryn (new) - added it

Kathryn Brooks I've tried it a few times too, but can never make it.


message 47: by Lori (new) - added it

Lori I've tried and failed 3 Times do far. I'm on a reading run so maybe I'll try it again soon. Loved your comments. :)


message 48: by Suzy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Suzy It really is funny. You seem like a funny person, I think you'll like it once you get through a little more. Wait at least until you Major Major Major Major's chapter. It's gold.


message 49: by Mansha (new) - added it

Mansha Heard about the book 6 years ago - made a friend gift it to me 5 years ago - had the exact same experience as quite a few of you above - then my sister lost it 3 years ago - bought it again this year in the hope I will eventually conquer it. It now sits on my bookshelf mocking me everyday. Oh and my struggle is not lessened that I borrow a lot of my passwords from this book. Self mocking perhaps? But glad to read am not alone! Gives me confidence to move on. Joseph Heller, thy shall be conquered soon!


message 50: by Amit (new) - added it

Amit Minz haha...epic


« previous 1
back to top