Shoma Patnaik's Reviews > Catch-22

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
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Apr 19, 2016

really liked it
bookshelves: 2015, military, satire, classic
Read in July, 2015

There's nothing like a joke to tell you how horrific something is. Catch-22 reads like a harshly poetic nightmare. Slaughterhouse Five does a great job of combining satire and absurdism with the tragedy of war but this book, with its relentless mood whiplash between ridiculousness and ghastliness brought the war alive for me in a way few other works have. The satire tends to get a little repetitive at times but it somehow adds to the feeling of frustration that the men on Pianosa must feel. I did like Mr Heller's writing for the most part; it really succeeds in conjuring up not just scenes but also the feelings behind them - Yossarian at the beach at dusk or waiting for Orr and eating all his food or his walk through Rome towards the book which would inject a vitriolic dose of misanthropy in the most dedicated humanist. And there's I thought I would find the non-chronological, see-saw thread of the book a nuisance but like the insistently repetitive jokes, it made the story far more real and atmospheric than it would have been otherwise. I liked the flow of his language, such as "A Satanic old man fired a flower at him" ("fired a flower" - it's so satisfying to say out loud) or anything involving Milo Minderbinder and food. And the language nerd in me especially liked all the little multilingual goodies, whether it's everyone calling Scheisskopf a shithead or Yossarian punning on François Villon. The ending was done just right; in any other book I might have dismissed it as a deux ex machina but here it was a welcome finish.
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04/19 marked as: read
04/19 marked as: to-read

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