Jay Winters's Reviews > Catch-22

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
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's review
May 28, 2012

Read from May 28 to July 09, 2012

Book Closing: If you like M*A*S*H*, I'm betting you will probably like Catch-22. Heller takes you on an absurd ride through Captain Yossarian's time at the Air Force camp in Pianosa - showing the tragedy of war from the facet of what it does to those who engage in it. Chapter by chapter, you meet characters for whom the heat of war has further fractured the cracks and fault lines in their souls - from young men who go crazy trying to keep themselves sane, to opportunists who take advantage of the most ridiculous circumstances, to generals and colonels who play power games simply to indulge in their own power.

What Heller's book shows us, when we laugh at the characters and their actions, is that we are not so different from this lunatic cast - that our own offices, churches, and homes are filled with the same characters and the same flaws. Some of those characters and flaws are funny, and some are downright frightening - but none of them is without critique. We are all cracked and we will all shatter - the only hope is escape.

Heller's book is unapologetically escapist. When you see the world as an absurd series of events, there is little else to do but escape. If you become a part of that landscape, you lose yourself. Yossarian, the protagonist, refuses to let himself completely melt into the canvas of the scene that is painted around him and seeks a way out. In the life of a Christian, this way out is Christ - the escape for sinners who would rather not go on sinning, even though they have already done so and have broken themselves and others in that process. Heller does not paint Yossarian's escape so clearly, but does give us hope that Yossarian will escape.

I enjoyed this book for the most part. It was a little dense reading at times, but well worth the time spent in finishing it. I hope you'll enjoy it as well.

Book Opening: It has been far too long since I've read a novel, and I've had Catch-22 sitting on my bookshelf for a very long time without having read it. So I'm deciding to crack it open. Apparently, it's one of those sleeper books that everyone loves, but hasn't quite made it to the lists of top books out there. The introduction was an interesting sort of memoir about how the book finally got to be published, which intrigued me.

The text of the book so far, the setting and the characters seem to be somewhat similar to the oddly humored MASH unit of Hawkeye Pierce...and I must admit I'm imagining Yossarian the protagonist as Hawkeye so far. We'll see how this goes.

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Reading Progress

05/28/2012 page 69
07/09/2012 page 454
100.0% "Not quite done....according to my edition, I still have about 10 or 15 more pages."
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