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Picture This

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  1,266 Ratings  ·  80 Reviews
"Mr. Heller treats the whole panorama of history past and present with the bravado of Mark Twain in one of his sassier moods."--The New York Times Book Review
A keenly satirical look at the world of art and museums by the author of the modern classic, Catch-22.
Paperback, 352 pages
Published March 24th 2000 by Simon Schuster (first published 1988)
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Jan 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for_soul
Я не люблю науку историю. Потому как это и не наука вовсе...

В самом скучном виде - это бесконечный список событий с датами.

В самом вздорном виде - это попытки историков (каждого на свой лад) установить (измыслить? реконструировать? вообразить?) связи между этими событиями из списка.

Но самое главное (как сказал кто-то из великих): история нас учит тому, что она нас ничему не учит.

Хотя... Почти каждый великий (известный, популярный) историк - обязательно литератор. Берёшь какие-нибудь лекции Г
Erik Graff
Oct 02, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Heller fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: literature
Heller's Catch-22 was probably the most popular novel at Maine Township South High School. My one attempt at reading it while on study break in the libary one Friday afternoon was circumvented by a brush up the nape of my neck. Dean Elbert Smith, objecting to the feel of it, a tapered bristle being required, told me then and there that I was suspended until the hair was cut to regulation. I returned the copy of Heller to my friend Richard who was sitting in front of me, marvelled with him about ...more
David Beavers
Jan 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
i've fancied myself a kind of minor champion of this book for a long while. Catch-22 was one of my first real "favorite" books, and Joseph Heller was one of the first authors I really recognized as having this authorial voice that I could learn from & follow. And Catch-22 is great, terrific, wonderful, everyone knows that . . . but when I read Picture This it appealed to me in this strange dark way which is also wickedly smart, and has always had a unique place in my book-loving heart.

it's a
Jun 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: purchased
This is a book which is quite different from Catch-22 and attempts to compare the two wouldn't be doing it justice. Still, I am going to do it. Compared to Catch-22, this is a much more sophisticated book, it deals predominantly with art and intellectuals, and their lives. The centre piece of this book is a painting by Rembrandt which has "Aristotle" with his hand on a bust of "Homer" as he ponders vacantly. I use the quotes because the book tells us: nothing is what it seems. It's a painting wh ...more
Hugo Emanuel
Apr 27, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Imaginem que iniciam a leitura de uma obra de um autor cujos romances anteriores haviam considerado excelentes.
Imaginem que o autor em questão tem uma voz extremamente única - deliciosamente satírica, irónica e espirituosa - na qual anseiam por voltar a mergulhar.
Imaginem ainda que a sinopse do volume da obra que se propõem a ler descreve-a como sendo constituída pelos pensamentos e considerações do quadro "Aristótles contemplando o busto de Homero" de Rembrandt van Rijn que, de algum modo, ga
Peycho Kanev
Mar 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Изключителна книга, много добър превод; ужасна корица.

"Съществува насилие и насилие. Едно е по-смазващо от друго.
Човечеството лесно забравя: зверствата, потресли ни преди седмица, утре ни се струват нещо нормално.
Смъртта на Сократ не повлия по никакъв начин на атинската история. Само може би благоприятства за подобряването на репутацията на града.
Няма човешка смърт, която да е толкова важна за бъдещето, колкото литературата, изписана за нея."
Jun 29, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: virgins
A glorious coming of age story about a young English boy who attends wizard school and discovers his treasure trove of hidden magical ability whilst cavorting with hirsuite giants and majestic Owls. Wait, I was reading it upside down. Actually, Its a novel about a real painting written from the point of view of the painting itself. Uhmm, yeah.
Jul 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels
Most underrated Heller? (Although, aren't they all underrated apart from Catch-22?)

Picture This is Heller's meditation on art, history, commerce, democracy, and the myths embedded in all four. He paints Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and Rembrandt the same way he does Yossarian, Slocum, Gold, and King David, and it's remarkable how well they fit into the Heller worldview.
Thomas Strömquist
An absolute gem of a brilliant little book that is nothing like anything you've read before. Not a quick read, you rather have to go slow and contemplate, but incredibly rewarding.
Maybe later. Not what I wanted to read right now. I did 40 pages.
Jun 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
I came to Joseph Heller's Picture this, for a second time. My warning should have been that I remembered nothing from my first read. I am a J Heller fan. I can quote much of Catch 22 by heart. I still bristle at those who call him a One hit Wonder. I took the extra try to get through Something Happened and am glad that I did. Picture This, in this, my second read through was aggravating.

Picture This is something of an experimental novel. There is not a plot so much as a central story line. The p
Dec 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
“Picture This” is a book that is remarkable on many levels. The concept for the novel itself is almost genius, and the execution of that concept is no mean feat, and Mr. Heller pulls it off nicely.
It is amazing how this novel, published in 1988, feels like it was written yesterday about very current events. It just goes to show you how much history is a cycle of events and how much Western Civilization (and all civilization) just rotate through the same stories again and again. Page 101 of this
Dec 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, literature
I'm a little embarrassed, but it took me a few years to finish this book ... I had tons of other books to read for school and work, but this novel is a bit demanding, as well. Heller does something original, as far as I know, in the history of literature. He tells the story of Rembrandt painting Aristotle contemplating a bust of Homer. One the very first page, we find out that the painting of Aristotle can observe the world, think, and feel, but cannot move. (I know, it's impossible, just like T ...more
Christian Holt
Mar 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Picture This is a really good book that should be and could be a masterpiece. The seeds for it are sewn throughout. Unfortunately, most of them are fallow seeds and fail to germinate. The amount that this book accomplishes is very impressive. Its critique of history is never boring, but also never extravagantly exaggerated. Heller has done a rare thing here that I've never seen duplicated elsewhere. The main problem it suffers from is pacing, and I can't even explain why it is a problem. The pac ...more
Greg Diamond
May 30, 2009 rated it liked it
If you liked Good as Gold, and you like the idea of hearing from Aristotle on history and such, you'll like this book, because it trots out the same sort of rickety framework for what -- in Kurt Vonnegut's hands -- would probably have turned out to be a book of essays that, freed from the need to be a novel, would have been much more entertaining and illuminating.
Dec 10, 2007 rated it really liked it
This book whetted my youthful appetite for art and history and philosophy all together.
Mirko Gustic
Nov 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gusticed, my-favs
Score: 10/10

It was a love at the first sight! I was something like 16 when I read “It was a love at the first sight” sentence for the first time and although I was able to get surprising lot of an action (wink wink) for that shy of a guy, I still consider Heller’s Catch 22 to be the best thing I was able to get hold of at that age.

Summary: “Picture This” is a shallow beating of Rembrandt and a deep deep dive into the minds of a person/group of people/society.

Some more(e):
I was always torn betwee
Ola Hol
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-lit
Amazing. A book about a painting by Rembrandt and the story behind it. It's not a mere account of events but a decription of life conditions in the 17th century Netherlands as well as Ancient Greece. It refers to a number of paintings by the Grand Master that I immediately wanted to see in the great and accessibile gallery of google. Parts of philosophers' views (mainly those of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle) are intertwined in the narrative and parts of Plato's dialogues are sometimes used (at lea ...more
Jan 23, 2018 rated it liked it
This book is definitely not for everyone. If you like light reading about the lives of Aristotle, Socrates, and Plato, then you'll probably like it. I thoroughly enjoyed Heller's writing on Rembrandt's life. I learned a lot of amusing details there. The bits on Plato and Aristotle are boring. Socrates, at least, is always interesting to read about. Heller is better at writing about the students these philosophers taught or people they knew such as Alexander the Great and Pericles. His opinions o ...more
Tom Quinn
Art History and Classics buffs will appreciate this much more than me. As it is, I don't know enough about the paintings, artists, or philosophers that feature so heavily here to really follow along and so my interest quickly waned. Heller tried some outside-the-box, unconventional things here, with the result being a sort of free association overlay of historical narrative and magical realism, but I didn't find the payoff worth the experimentation.

3 stars, did not finish, but would not discoura
Jan 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
A post-modernist account of Plato, Socrates, Aristotle and Rembrandt. It's hard not to love Catch-22, but even if you do, this is a very hard slog.

There are occasional bon mots -- "The motion in the Athenian Assembly to invade Syracuse to restore order in Sicily was deceitful, corrupt, stupid, chauvinistic, irrational and suicidal. It carried with a large majority." -- but they weren't enough to sustain my interest.
Anshuman Sinha
Oct 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant in its conception and its delivery. It's like talking back to history and we find not much has changed. Two principle truths evolve, we never learn from our mistakes and there is no form of good government...ever!

It is also an insightful history lesson that changes your outlook and perspective from the one dimensional view of history we are fed.
Jun 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Про Рембрандта, Сократа и Аристотеля. Как Рембранд рисовал Аристотеля, когда тот думал о Платоне. Замут еще тот, люблю такие. Много про него думала, очень много. Выводы утешительные )
"Рембрандт не мог позволить себе Рембрандта."

"Он был еще одним искателем логической вразумительности в мире, который и нелогической-то не обладает." (О Спинозе).

Misha Wilkinson
Jul 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2018
Sep 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Got bored on Ancient Greece parts :)
Jorgen Peterson
Jun 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Pretty cool and funny. Very interesting structure.
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Dark humor, dark history and unexpected parallels. Everything to like
And nothing to dislike about this book.
Ani Artinyan
Jul 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
Оригиналност без цел и структура. Поне в моите очи, поне сега.
Andrew Nease
Dec 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Now, I'm not naive. I understand, after -- at the time I read this -- seven years of reading him that any factual assertion made by Joseph Heller should be taken with a full packet of salt, but the history, philosophy, and art analysis of this book make it particularly readable. The bizarre angle's interesting, Heller's equally cynical and humane sense of humor carries it a good part of the way (as it usually does) and, fuck me, I really do feel like I learned something.
Chad Bearden
May 09, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I'm not sure what's more impressive about "Picture This". Is it Joseph Heller's chameleon-like ability to write something that in no way feels anything like any other book he's ever written, while still managing to be distinctly Hellerian? Or is it his ability to combine together such a disparate cacaphony of elements that aren't even connected by so much as a plot, and still somehow manage to make it work as a novel?

According to the book's general description, "Picture This" is supposed to be a
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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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“There are outrages and there are outrages, and some are more outrageous than others.
Mankind is resilient: the atrocities that horrified us a week ago become acceptable tomorrow.
The Death of Socrates had no effect upon the history of Athens. If anything, the reputation of the city has been improved by it.
The death of no person is as important to the future as the literature about it.
You will learn nothing from history that can be applied, so don't kid yourself into thinking you can.
'History is bunk', said Henry Ford.”
“One had to know Plato personally to appreciate the love he suppressed puritanically for the music, poetry, and drama he censured in his philosophy and censored in his model communities. They moved him too deeply.” 1 likes
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