Catch-22 Catch-22 discussion


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The Perfectly Written book

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message 1: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 06, 2007 05:35PM) (new)

On a personal level, I believe this is the perfect book. The characters are developed in such a way that we feel for each one of them. You almost want these men to be real.

For the time it came out this book broke all kinds of conventions. It still does. Instead of a supportive member of the greatest 'generation' Yossarian wants to be out of the war. He doesn't care who wins the war. He does care about anything by saving his own skin. About staying alive and maybe getting home.

This is radical for WWII. We have always been shown a certain brave and nobal soldier who is willing to lay down his life for something bigger than himself.

What do you think?


message 2: by Brandon (last edited Aug 25, 2016 10:52AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Brandon exestentialism.


message 3: by Adrienne (last edited Aug 25, 2016 10:53AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Adrienne I agree with you. It is very rare that we see media representations of people who have a greater sense of self-preservation than of nobility, solidarity or honor, which is strange because really, most people can relate to the drive to protect themselves. This book just says it much louder than we usually do.


message 4: by Alicia (last edited Aug 25, 2016 10:54AM) (new)

Alicia I didn't like this book. I understand why it is so beloved, the ideas it brings out are important and interesting to discuss. But just reading it, I did not enjoy.


message 5: by Chirag (last edited Aug 25, 2016 10:54AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Chirag Jain Y'know existentialist ideas aside, and even ignoring the numerous conventions the book broke.. I'm surprised the one thing few people mention is how funny it is. I love reading, but rarely have I read a book, much less those touted as classics, that I have laughed out loud at.

It catches us unawares, as we laugh at tragedy and absurdity in a situation which in hindsight appalls us. I've read the Vonnegut's Slaughter-House Five (also amazing) but it just doesn't read nearly as well. This is book you can enjoy slowly over days, because it keeps building, as you see more and more.

I think its very rare that book makes you feel the same breadth of emotions with such potency.


message 6: by Bobby (last edited Aug 25, 2016 10:54AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bobby I agree with Chirag that this is a very funny, laugh-out-loud book, while at the same time it deals with very serious issues about life, war, military etc. (I wonder if MASH writers were influenced by it?) The only book I've read that is somewhat similar in tone and sense of humor is The Confederacy of Dunces. I think Slaughter House Five is darker and has lesser of the absurd element.


message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

"Billy Pilgrim has come un-stuck in time..."
LESS of the absurd?
They're both great, they're both funny and tragic at the same time. I'm not sure SH5 is less absurd though...I would say moreso actually...but Catch-22 is certainly heavier on the irony.


message 8: by Bobby (last edited Aug 25, 2016 10:55AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bobby Good point. I tend to think of SH5 of being a sci-fi (sort of) so apply a different standard of absurdness. But I think irony is better concept to describe what I meant.


message 9: by Roshanak (last edited Aug 25, 2016 10:55AM) (new)

Roshanak I think Yossarian is an intellectual in the true sense of the word or else why would he want to save his own skin when everything is so absurd?

The book is highly ironic and really funny but then that is the real face of the war. There is nothing noble or logical about it, and Yossarian is one of the few people in the book who actually recgnize the absurdity of the situation and want to get out. It is the best book I have ever read.


message 10: by lucke1984 (last edited Aug 25, 2016 10:56AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

lucke1984 Catch-22 is an amazing book. And though I love Vonnegut I thought Slaghter-house IV was too tied to its history, diminishing its capacity to deliver its pithy profundity being more tied to history than I've read in his work( an ironic statement I suppose when the main character is un-tuck in time). I see the beginings of Yossarian in Falstaff in Henry IV part one. (do I make any sense)


message 11: by lawrence henderson (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:08AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

lawrence henderson chirag has hit the nail directly on the head - this is officially THE funniest book ever written.

hey, where you all going? come back here and eat your liver...


message 12: by J.G. Keely (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:12AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

J.G. Keely Well, I personally have trouble defining this as the funniest book ever written, I would say it is tied with the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It seems to me that humor can be, in this case, divided into two varieties. The first variety, represented in Catch-22 is a type of humor that is based upon real absurdity and the nature of reality. It deals with the unfair, the misunderstood, the irrational, the tragic, and the non-sequitur.

It is a biting humor, one that forces us to consider the nature of the world, pain and all. Often, the only way to deal with such pain is to laugh. Hitchhiker's is another example of humor based upon difficulty, confusion and pain. So is George Carlin, Bill Hicks, Dave Chapelle, the aforementioned Kurt Vonnegut, The Marx Bros, South Park, or Fight Club. It is the acerbic tongue of Satire and it is definitely an honest and intellectual humor.

A lot of people don't like that kind of humor, because it unearths things that they are not comfortable with. They prefer the second class: the avoidant. This would be humor purely for humor's sake, and often takes the form of nonsense or, in the modern vernacular the 'random'. Penguins, Ninjas, Cheese, Pants. We all recognize the type. It is non-threatening and non-thought-provoking. Interestingly enough, though, all of these concepts are based upon the first, but in a much more abstracted and less recognizable way.

I used to carry a copy of Catch-22 with me all the time. I'd open to a random page and just have a good laugh. There may be a point where the truth of such humor could hit so close to the mark that I might not be amused, but I hope that doesn't happen. I have always thought that anything we can't laugh at, we have ceased to think about in an objective manner.


message 13: by Casey (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:12AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Casey Goodness great quote by joseph heller:

"When I read something saying I've not done anything as good as Catch-22 I'm tempted to reply, 'Who has?'"


message 14: by Nathan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:58PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nathan I agree with you 100%. I first read this book almost six years ago and reread it every year. It is hands down my favorite novel. I cannot even bring myself to write a review of it Good Reads because nothing I say could possibly articulate how brilliant Catch-22 really is.

NC


message 15: by Lori (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:02PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Lori Im sorry. I couldnt get past the first 40 pages. i just kept reading and rereading them, thinking i was missing something vital... The book was making absolutley no sense to me at all. The author jumped from character to character every 3 minutes, barely stayed on track.... he seemed to have so much to say and only a little time in which he alloted to say it, and just went off on 20 different tangents at the same time. I ended up with a headache and had to close the book.
And that is something i very very rarely ever do.

Somehow this makes me feel very unamerican.
:(


message 16: by J.G. Keely (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:04PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

J.G. Keely Well, if it's any consolation, its probably un-American to be reading a book for pleasure in this day and age, anyways. That isn't to say that the morning bus isn't filled with people who appear to be reading books, but if I may let my elitism show for a moment, I will assure you that they are nothing of the kind: they are television scripts with a cover jacket.

It's not shocking if a person doesn't find Catch-22 to be engaging or a pleasure to read. Like most of those oft lauded 'great classics' the thing can be hard to read without training. I'm glad for the two years of Latin I picked up in high school, because without them, Paradise Lost would not have been quite such an enjoyable read. That's not to say you aren't an accomplished reader, or to pass any judgment on such skills; we all have classics we cannot read.

Though on your latter point, it could be noted that Catch-22 is rather un-American, itself. It's anti-war, anti-populist, anti-politics, and anti-business. You can't get much more opposite of the American ideal than that. It's a book about the weak and helpless being cheated by the sorts of liars and crooks who invariably seem to end up in positions of authority.

I suppose it shows a rather sad state for the world, and perhaps should raise questions about the sanity of those like myself, who find it one of the most amusing, laugh-out-loud texts in the language.


message 17: by Ray (new) - rated it 2 stars

Ray Catch-22 isn't difficult to read because it is un-American or because the previous poster is an unaccomplished reader. I've read more than my fair share of the classics, the majority of which were just for fun. It's difficult to read because there is NO continuity. Each section of it's own is hilarious. The characterization is amazing, but Heller went to such lengths to prove his point of the absurdity of war by shuffling the time line that it's nearly impossible to follow what point in the story the action is taking place.


message 18: by Tom (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom The chronology of the story is perfectly clear and straightforward, if you read it attentively. It jumps around in time a good deal, but a good reader will generally be able to keep their bearings, with a bit of thought.


Jared Brickman Some great points here.

@Keely - I like your comment about television scripts.

@Aaron - I agree. The character development is absolute genius.

Overall, I think some people have to relax and go with the flow when they read. A good book like this is a very complicated piece of art, and you can only view the work one small segment at a time. For Catch-22 especially, your most ultimate moment of sitting back and enjoying the work is when you're finished and you reflect on the novel as you apply the view to your own life.

Stay well all.


message 20: by Celeste (last edited Jan 17, 2012 11:29PM) (new)

Celeste I finished reading Catch-22 yesterday and I'm still under the impression. It is certainly a perfectly written book.



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message 21: by Sid (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sid Tom wrote: "The chronology of the story is perfectly clear and straightforward, if you read it attentively. It jumps around in time a good deal, but a good reader will generally be able to keep their bearings..."

The plot is not easy to follow unless you a) have a pen and paper ready or b) have read it a few times. I agree with Ray - the plot is all over the place. It's still a good book, but because of the structure I would not call it perfect.


Jason Lilly Chirag wrote: "Y'know existentialist ideas aside, and even ignoring the numerous conventions the book broke.. I'm surprised the one thing few people mention is how funny it is. I love reading, but rarely have I r..."

I agree. I have read this book twice, and the first I laughed out loud (in public a few times). It really is one of the funniest books. However, on the second read, I noticed some of the more somber and serious scenes of the book and loved it even more. The book itself is one big emotional paradox. Sometimes so sad that it's funny. Sometimes so funny it's sad. And sometimes so tragic that you have to laugh just to feel comfortable. Then you feel guilty for laughing.

It's just incredible.


message 23: by Kyle (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kyle Lori wrote: "Im sorry. I couldnt get past the first 40 pages. i just kept reading and rereading them, thinking i was missing something vital... The book was making absolutley no sense to me at all. The author j..."

I was stuck in the early chapters, too...but keep on reading, and you'll find a masterpiece.


message 24: by Will (new) - rated it 5 stars

Will IV Jonathan wrote: "I absolutely agree. It's the first book that made my father laugh out loud, and one of the few that can still make me do it after four readings."

Agreed here as well.


Sterling Malory Archer i almost finished reading this book and my love for it has no limit! i found it absurdly funny, keep in mind that even though i've tried i haven't found another book that i consider funny besides Hitchikers guide.

the week before i read slaughterhouse five, i didn't find anything great in it, many say that it's a great anti war book, it didn't feel like it. through the humor of this book all the tragic events were made even more tragic and it broke my heart time and time again!!

words can not describe how much i love this book, i didn't even know it was possible!


message 26: by Hamriver (new)

Hamriver The book is highly ironic and really funny but then that is the real face of the war. There is nothing noble or logical about it, and Yossarian is one of the few people in the book who actually recgnize the absurdity of the situation and want to get out. convert vob file to mov mac


message 27: by A.J. (new) - rated it 5 stars

A.J. Knauss This is my favorite book. I have 15 years and counting in the military so for me it is like family...you can poke fun at your own family but bristle a bit if someone else does. As a physician I hope to write the "Catch 22" for medicine and I don't know if I did with "Room Four" but readers will tell...The fact that the title took on its own meaning...what else do you call a situation that is a "catch 22"? is a tribute to the author.


Michael Catch-22 was a big disappointment for me. I'd seen it constantly rated among the best 20th century novels and
I don't get it. I stopped reading halfway through. I found it so repetitive, the same joke getting repeated dozens of times. It's like he came up with the idea of a catch-22 and decided to apply it to absolutely everything, and he thought it necessary to explain in detail why each situation was a catch-22 even though it was obvious. I found this very taxing and boring which bothered all the more because I really expected, and wanted, to like it.


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