Jonathan Terrington's Reviews > Catch-22

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
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Catch 22 has been so adopted by popular culture that it has become its own phrase in common literature. A phrase meaning a no-win scenario, either because of contradictions or difficulties within a situation. Before I read Catch 22 it had been explained to me that the catch 22 within the novel was that the main character Yossarian, could avoid doing the deadly bomb-runs as a pilot if he was crazy. Only, to be proven crazy he had to fly the missions and if he didn't want to fly the missions then he was completely sane. Of course, within the novel itself, catch 22 is much, much more.

Catch 22 is the call phrase for anyone within the novel to basically trap and enforce a soldier into doing what they want. In other words if they want someone to fly in dangerous missions they have to fly 'because of Catch 22'. And as our protagonist, Yossarian, reflects, no one really seems to know what Catch 22 is, or means, they just use it because it holds an assumed value - that can be used to force people to submit.

So let me quickly address what I really liked about this novel and disliked. Firstly, I liked the fact that out of all the war novels I have ever read, this best provides the idea of how abstract and chaotic war appears to be. Other novels highlight the ordered barracks and the clean shoes and dress uniforms. This novel highlights the dirt and the battle for rank and promotion in a humorous way that is amusing and captivating. Of course, this is also what I did not like about this novel. The chaotic manner of writing and portraying everything that was happening...

It is for this reason - the chaotic, frenetic manner of writing - that I can state I only enjoyed this novel to a lesser degree than others. There were moments that struck me as brilliantly witty, and others that just struck me as purely raunchy and raucous. Still for anyone into war novels I do recommend reading this - just be advised it is a novel that grapples more with the dirty, all-too-human side of war.
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Reading Progress

April 13, 2012 – Shelved
June 21, 2014 – Started Reading
June 22, 2014 – Shelved as: classic-literature
June 22, 2014 – Shelved as: classics-challenge-3
June 22, 2014 – Shelved as: 1001-books-to-read-before-you-die
June 22, 2014 – Shelved as: 1001-books-challenge-2014
June 22, 2014 – Shelved as: gritty-reads
June 22, 2014 – Shelved as: historical
June 22, 2014 – Shelved as: humorous
June 22, 2014 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)

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David Sarkies It is a shame that you didn't get too much into this novel, though when I read it I never considered it to be a war novel per se but rather using the setting as a microcosm of life.


message 2: by Ayman (new) - added it

Ayman Teaman Good enough review :) Guess won't regret having added this to my to-read list.

But man, too many books too little time :(


message 3: by Ayman (new) - added it

Ayman Teaman ^ What I meant is, good enough rating for me not to regret adding this to my to-read list.


message 4: by Jonathan (new) - added it

Jonathan Terrington It's a good read Ayman but not my style. Also David it was more that I didn't get so much out of it rather than into it. Chaotic writing like this and Kurt Vonnegut is not much to my liking.


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