Sheilashelton's Reviews > Catch-22

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
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U 50x66
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Jun 14, 2011

really liked it


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"I really do admire you a bit. You're an intelligent person of great moral character who has taken a very courageous stand. I'm an intelligent person with no moral character at all, so I'm in an ideal position to appreciate it." - Colonel Cathcart, Catch-22

I really appreciate it when a book respects the intelligence of its readership. If a book is going to be "experimental" in any way, I love those that throw you into a world with no explanations - a literary baptism of fire (ie: Orwell's "Animal Farm"). Catch-22 is one of those books, and that's part of the reason why I thought it was so amazing!

Catch-22 tells the story of a US Army squadron based in Italy during WWII, and a disenchanted pilot named Yossarian who thinks everyone is trying to kill him. (not an unreasonable assumption in a war) Except that it's not an Italy, a military story, or a world that we're meant to immediately recognize. There is a logic in the book that all the characters seem to accept, but that doesn't make sense to the reader. Or, alternately, it makes too much sense to the reader, and that's when the book hits you hard. You start falling into it. You start siding with people. Then all of a sudden, you realize that you're siding with the wrong people. You start thinking to yourself how could I be agreeing with this asshole?! How can I be laughing! My favorite books are the ones that elicit visceral reactions from me...my chest gets tight, my stomach gets tied in knots, and I can't explain why I'm reacting positively/negatively - I just know that I am. There were so many of those moments in this book, I can't even begin to describe them all...

One of the things that impressed me most was the structure of the book - how all at once it seemed both haphazard, and entirely calculated. How each segment could stand alone, but that together they weaved an intricate, thought-provoking story...
If you like historical novels, if you like political novels, if you like in-depth characters, if you like humor, if you like to think - I would highly recommend this book to you.
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