Catch-22 Catch-22 discussion

I don't get it!

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message 1: by Gala (new) - added it

Gala I started reading the book cuz it was much recommended. Im about a quarter way through, I see the "Catch 22" but still haven't gotten to the good part? Everyone says the end is the best, so I am just waiting for it, but its all a bit too confusing and choppy.
Is it worth finishing?

Jocylynn Definitely. I just finished it (about 5 minutes ago) and the last few pages had me on the edge of my seat. Keep going. The further along you go, the more apparent Catch-22's ubiquitousness becomes.

Marts  (Thinker) I recently bought this book because it was also recommended to me. I was told that its really funny and all that, so Jocylynn if you say its worth it, thats good to hear. The story line seems ok, so far.

Alissa Persist, you chronologically-trained monkeys! This book is pure genius. Read it, and then read it again. If you can't get through it, go read "The Da Vinci Code" and then throw yourself off a cliff.

Jake Yeah. Really, if you don't see the genius of Catch-22, you're really not doing the world any good at all. There are two types of people in the world: Those who like Catch-22, and James Patterson readers. Don't be the latter.

message 6: by Tom (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom Hang in there. This book is worth it in so many ways. I can't blame folks who find it complicated, but don't let that put you off. An amazing eye-opening book.

George Not everyone does, but it's still a great book. It's not a linear plot, so what appears confusing initially will become increasingly clearer as you go on. Still, if you have no taste for the absurd, this book will leave you flat. If you do, it has no equal.

Tamara Burross Grisanti I laughed out loud at this book. Reading it cover-to-cover in three days was an adventure in hilarity. I couldn't put it down.

Norman For all of the "chronolically trained monkeys" who had trouble with Catch-22, I recommend Slaughterhouse Five and The Things They Carried. Let the evolution begin!

Karen Yes, I think this book is definitely worth finishing. I, too, didn't understand it at first. I learned to appreciate it in a class, though. I had an insightful teacher who was able to explicate it for his class. I think it makes a strong statement about the futility and inhumanity of war. If you want a book that is really confusing (and is meant to be so) read The Trial by Franz Kafka.

Melissa I read this book years ago during boring stretches of certain classes in my high school. Made the absurdity all the more piquant.

message 12: by Tom (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom It only gets more relevant and hilarious and frightening as you get older. Beware.

message 13: by Pinkfloyd27 (last edited Mar 25, 2008 03:59PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Pinkfloyd27 Good literature, especially satire, doesn't necessarily keep you burning through pages because you are supposed to struggle with the concepts and ideas, some of which are obvious and some more difficult to recognize. Whether you get this book or not you have to see the humor, I laughed out loud quite often while reading this book, usually in reference to Major Major (Major Major). Great read!!

Terrell gala, i absolutely loved catch-22. but if you're now half way through it i say put it down. the ending doesn't make the book. it's brilliance, in my opinion, lies within every page.

Jared Brickman It really is a slow burner. The genius of Heller's penmanship, and the value of the book lies in the fact that the more you read it, the more you don't get it. Then at the end, you realize you "get it" because you "don't get it".

What would you expect from a sociological piece? Human beings don't make sense!

Annette Hey - if you are half way through and still aren't enjoying it - you won't like it better later! Maybe this type of literature isn't what cranks your motor. You aren't the only one who needs a plot to enjoy a story.

message 17: by AJ (new) - rated it 4 stars

AJ Goodrich I hated it when I first started reading. I thought it was annoying, confusing and tedious. It took me about a month to get through the first hundred pages.

As you keep going, though, you start to "get it" a little better. It becomes funnier, you adapt to the style of writing.

The end makes the whole thing worth it. It took a little persistance, but the book is a classic for a reason, and I ended up loving it.

For those who think it's stupid, persist. For those who think you're stupid for not liking it, get off your literary high horse.

Alyoshka I read most of it years ago and the joke just got old to me. Nothing progresses. Its the same brand of absurdity in various situations with nothing quite new as it continues. Parts of it were absolutely hilarious though. I should revisit it and see if my initial impression sticks.

Melissa I'm always saddened when people don't see the genius of this book simply due to it's illogical structure. It was my favorite in High School and still stands strong as a favorite into my 30s.

That said, other works considered genius by others are not those that I adore.

I agree with those who say that if you're not enjoying it by half way through, you're not going to care about the ending. I was one of those who couldn't put it down and cared about the characters immediately.

message 20: by Jacqueline (new)

Jacqueline George It took me three goes before I finally broke into it - persistent, aren't I? I am very glad I did persist, because it all comes together as you go on.

For me, it is The Novel of the 20th Century, or at least the second half of the century.

Interesting that so many people find it difficult to get into. I'm sure modern agents and publishers would drop it by the end of the first page. I'm glad to see that the people above are not afraid to get into difficult reading - which really repays the effort in this case.

message 21: by None (new)

None yes, there are people who know where their copy of 22 is at all times, and there are those who wish they never had.

message 22: by Meh (new) - rated it 3 stars

Meh I liked his sense of humor and style, but the message didn't speak to me at all. People are stupid, there's no point to life, and there's nothing you can do about it. I don't believe that at all.

message 23: by Jacqueline (new)

Jacqueline George Ah - but you can do something about it! Appleby (forgive me if I have the name wrong - I'm too lazy to look it up) planned meticulously and then got into his little dinghy and paddled all the way to Sweden.

The ending was so exciting and it came as a wonderful surprise. The system and its minions can be beaten! (Compare that to the bleakness of The Castle)

Jessica I just finished 22 and have to say I loved it from the moment I read the first sentence. I had heard how hard it was to get into so I was a bit daunted to begin it, but as I went on the only confusion I had was why people had so much trouble with it.

Maybe that says something about me, but I don't really mind. I think it's great - beginning, middle, and end (and yes especially the end). But if you don't like it, I'm okay with that also, not every book is meant for every person.

Norman Meh, try using the novel's war setting to re-define your conclusions. (Military) people are stupid, there's no point to life (when you're subject to the inanities of military bureacracy and the overall stupidity of warfare), and there's nothing you can do about it. Except that in the end Yossarian (I don't know where Jacqueline got 'Appleby' from...) does do something about it: he paddles away after months of planning this rather bizarre escape.

message 26: by Alex (new) - rated it 5 stars

Alex Brown I agree with DEFINITELY finish this book. It is choppy, it is difficult, it is long, but it is all worth it. I finished the book yesterday evening and had a wonderful experience when I finished it. The entire book makes sense. The choppiness that you see is important. The disorganization is all there for a purpose. Trust me, it will all become apparent in time.

message 27: by Alex (new) - rated it 5 stars

Alex Brown Alissa, you're hilarious.

Steve Wow, Norman, you just characterized millions of people as stupid who voluntarily give up their liberty and risk their lives for the protection of your rights. But hey, at least you don't judge billions of people without meeting them, so that's something.

message 29: by Mary (new)

Mary Yes, yes, yes! Do finish it. Perhaps go and do something refreshing first -- go for a run, see a movie in the middle of the day, have a drink. Sometimes a person just isn't in the right frame of mind for the darkly funny. High school, for instance, primes most of us for Dark Humor About Futility. So does working in a cube... I'm not suggesting you try either of these dire alternatives :), but sometimes coming back to a book after a little break can give us a new point of view. This book Should Not be a chore. Just keep putting it down and then picking it back up later until it's fun. Happy reading!

message 30: by Tom (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom I credit this book with helping to preserve my sanity. CATCH-22 and the original BBC series THE OFFICE helped me cope with a nightmare job that, for all intents and purposes, used CATCH-22 as a management guide without realizing it is a satire. I've read it twice, and am well underway on my third read in three years.

I didn't find it difficult to read. I just gave in and let Heller take me where he wanted to take me. There are few gratuitous details, and the shifts in time all make sense after a while.

It may not be The Great American Novel, but it sure as hell is A Great American Novel, and certainly the only one that I would classify as Essential Reading.

Nicky I liked Catch 22 but I didn't love it. It made me laugh and made me think but I still think it's slightly overrated.
If you don't like it, don't plough through it hating it more and more, take a break a book shouldn't be a chore. If people are telling you that you should read it and insinuate that you are too stupid to appreciate it because you don't like it tell them to re read The Emperor’s New Clothes as they were clearly too stupid to appreciate that.

message 32: by Tom (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom Exactly, Nicky. Reading should only ever be easy. No book should ever make a demand on the reader. Readers shouldn't ever have to work to understand a book. Authors should just spoonfeed their readers.

message 33: by Sean (new) - added it

Sean I gotta say I started and gave up about 50 pages in. That said, I was enjoying it, but was really hanging out to read 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' (and I just wasn't in the mood for the unconventional narrative - shallow I know :)) so I dropped '22' for 'Nest.

I will return though...

For first time readers, I've heard it numerous times that you should try to persist past the 100 page mark and things will become clearer.

Norman Steve, I never characterized anyone as being stupid. In my comment above I was not stating my personal views. What I was trying to do was put some perspective on Meh's statement of the book's message. Since the military context is at the heart of Heller's satire, our conclusions about his message should recognize this focus.

message 35: by Phleabas (new) - added it

Phleabas Well, I’m probably committing a mortal sin in asking this question but here goes!

Is the book better than the film?

.... easy now ...

I first watched the film when I was far too young, all I remember was “Help the bombardier the bombardier”, it probably scarred me for life. It took about 25 years for me to bring myself to watch it again. I had heard so much about it, I thought I would finally enjoy it being older however, it appears I was none the wiser! While I understood the concept it appears I had missed the wit. Should I read the book to right this wrong?

message 36: by Will (new) - rated it 5 stars

Will IV Yes, while the acting and directing for the movie was great, the novel did not translate well at all to the big screen.

Hung-yu Chen When I first read this book in college, I couldn't understand it, and after a couple of chapters I put it aside. After two months in the army, I started reading Catch-22 again and this time I simply couldn't put it down. I met a retired U.S. Marine when I was backpacking in England, we were discussing books and catch-22 came up. We both agreed that after serving in the military, the book seemed to make more sense. I'm not saying that you have to join the military to understand the book, but sadly, it does help.

Steve Ward When I saw there were people who didn't "get" it, I thought there must be something wrong with them. I looked up the other books for one of those people, and her favorite thing was romance. Then I understood. If you want a book that is entertainment, this is not for you. If you want a book that will change your world view, it is. I don't care for books that teach me nothing.

message 39: by Rajat (last edited Mar 28, 2012 05:08PM) (new) - added it

Rajat I completely agree with the readers who have found the book difficult. I found it confusing after a few pages and could not continue. But going by some of the reviews given here seems like a second attempt may be worth it....hopefully I will have the patience!

message 40: by Dave (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dave Jones Great book! I savored every page. Very entertaining. The journey, for me, exceeded the destination. One of the few books I've read twice. The quality is maintained at a high level throughout. I wasn't in a hurry to get to the end.

Karen I read this book years ago and absolutely loved it! I still remember it as one of the funniest books I ever read.

message 42: by Phleabas (last edited Mar 31, 2012 10:30AM) (new) - added it

Phleabas Thanks for the feedback, sounds like the film didn't do the book justice, I'll have to read it. While the film might have conveyed the constant paradox reasonably well, its attempt at humour didn't quite succeed in my view.

Gregory Allen I love this book, but the people who told the OP to read it to the end because that's the best part are pure manipulators! I'm sure they had the best intentions, they're hoping you start to enjoy it, but no, it's not a book tied together by a great ending. I can't say give it up, though, either, because I love the book so much.

message 44: by George (last edited Apr 01, 2012 12:07PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

George I'd certainly agree, the ending isn't exactly a slam dunk triumph of man against the system, but unless you reach the end, most of what you've read up to that point will remain shrouded in mystery and lose most of its impact. To me, reading through the book is like recovering from a traumatic event. bits and pieces come through in no particular order and are impossible to interpret at first. one could say that by the end of the book Yossarian is well on his way to full recovery and hopefully so is the reader.

The movie couldn't begin to capture the feeling of the book and the studio and director tried to play it safe with a more standard approach to telling the story. Allen Arkin was a great choice for Yossarian, but others, especially Art Garfunkel, tended to detract more than contribute.

Matthew If someone reads a portion of this book and hasn't laughed yet, than their sense of humor probably doesn't skew toward the satirical or the dark. In which case, finishing the book seems pointless.

Harley When I was finishing my BA (late) in 1969 I took a class in "Black Humor" and was introduced to Heller, Vonnegut, Pynchon, Barth, Donleavy and Brautigan. I was taken with some, some not, but Catch-22 and Slaughterhouse Five are probably still on my all time top 20 list. The humor and absurdity, the characters, the plot twists, the attitude, the perceptions. Understand, this was during the Viet Nam war, but now we have this generation's wars, so maybe it's not that different. And we can all relate these days to "What's good for M&M Industries is good for America."

The movie Catch-22 was good in its way, but we thought it distorted the story some because "help the bombardier" overwhelmed the movie out of proportion to its place in the book.

George True, Viet Nam made it relevant and more acceptible to the American public, but of course it was written by a WWII vet based on his experiences in that war. I would certainly agree that the book uses the war at the ultimate metaphor for modern US life and society.

message 48: by C.J. (new) - added it

C.J. Prince Harley wrote: "When I was finishing my BA (late) in 1969 I took a class in "Black Humor" and was introduced to Heller, Vonnegut, Pynchon, Barth, Donleavy and Brautigan. I was taken with some, some not, but Catch-..."

I read it in this time frame also and thought it most lucid and brilliant. And Timeless.

Melissa I first read Catch-22 in the fall of 1970, so yes, for me too, the Viet Nam War was definitely a key backdrop.

message 50: by Adam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Adam Stevenson I found it difficult, irritating and repetitive at first, but the book builds up till the repetition becomes the forward motion of the book, it becomes part of the humour until you finish it breathless and invigorated.

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