Leo's Reviews > Catch-22

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
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's review
Jun 27, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2011, to-re-read

Never have I been pulled through the entire spectrum of emotion quite as enjoyably as this, with Heller ingeniously switching tones on a dime with a magician's charm. One moment I was laughing like a fool, and the next I was clenching my jaw with agony at the horrors of the war; thankfully for my taste, Heller leaned more on the comedic/optimistic side.

Reading Catch-22 was sort of like watching a brilliantly shining coin flipping through a majestic parabola in slow motion, with one side representing laugh-out-loud comedy and the other an intense exploration of the terrors of war, making its way to the ground with the weight of someone's fate resting on whichever side it falls on. But this isn't just a thoughtless experiment. Both tones are equally pleasing and useful to the story.

Catch-22 definitely wasn't perfect, but it's close. It reminded me of a Confederacy of Dunces because there were segments that I know a lot of people simply won't laugh at if they don't possess a certain sense of humor. And at times it can be a bit much to wrangle, but if you don't allow the insanity and chaos to consume you, you'll enjoy it thoroughly.

I feel like Yossarian and Dunbar represented how my friends and I would have handled the situation--with a sane amount of insanity that'd be necessary in the face of such horror and idiocy. Yossarian has to be the best anti-hero I've come across so far, and the way Heller is able to spin illogical conversations, rules, and situations into logical nonsense and back again is fantastic.

I'm rambling now, but this is truly laugh out loud great. Among too many to name, Clevinger's interrogation and the moaning at the briefing were comedic gold. But have no doubt that this is a "thinking person's" book as well. It deals with all of the Big questions of life in some manner. There's plenty of psychology to examine, be it bureaucratic, war, anxiety, etc.; and the final scene with Snowden was incredibly touching.

I really cannot say enough about this beauty, so trust me and see for yourself. This was my second attempt to read it after ditching it 30 pages in a year ago. And part of that was due to my having read all of the bashing reviews and avoiding it. But like beauty, it's all in the eye of the beholder, so give it a chance. I'm glad I did. And I think Heller's prose is underrated; there were some sentences there that simply knocked me out. I will definitely read Catch-22 again and recommend to friends. This one pulled me in so well that it's one of the rare books that has genuinely made me wish characters were killed off painfully....fucking Milo.
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Reading Progress

June 27, 2010 – Shelved
November 15, 2011 – Started Reading
November 15, 2011 –
page 51
November 16, 2011 –
page 60
November 16, 2011 –
page 68
November 16, 2011 –
page 82
November 16, 2011 –
page 104
November 17, 2011 –
page 118
November 17, 2011 –
page 131
November 17, 2011 –
page 153
November 17, 2011 –
page 176
November 18, 2011 –
page 186
November 18, 2011 –
page 198
November 18, 2011 –
page 251
November 19, 2011 –
page 267
November 20, 2011 –
page 286
November 21, 2011 –
page 306
November 21, 2011 –
page 318
November 21, 2011 –
page 330
November 21, 2011 –
page 340
November 21, 2011 –
page 345
November 22, 2011 –
page 352
November 22, 2011 –
page 377
November 22, 2011 –
page 390
November 22, 2011 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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Borbality Love this one. I've read a few times to "make sure" I still love it and it's always even better than I remembered.

message 2: by Leo (new) - rated it 5 stars

Leo It really caught me off guard. I wasn't expecting it to be this great.

Katie  Wooldridge Completely agree :)

Mary I agree about Milo, and the same goes for Aarfy!

message 5: by Jacob (new)

Jacob Kilgore I've attempted the book, and it seemed to help myself through by imagining everything happening in a black-and-white Twilight Zone.

Also, I can't get over this excellently written review. It's so awesome I'm partially convinced to get back to the book, if I hadn't already started in on T.H. White's 'The Once and Future King'.

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