NaNoReMo: Catch 22 – Chapters 1-5


“NaNoReMo” – that alternating caps thing is driving me crazy. How do the kids do it?

So, Joseph Heller wrote a book.

Don’t know what to say other than it’s like Duck Soup mixed with M*A*S*H. Can you tell that I watch more movies than I read books? Haven’t seen the film of Catch-22, featuring an unbelievable cast, so I can’t really reference that. But I’m guessing if you know it’s a satire of war when you begin reading, it’ll grab you and pull you in by both ankles.

I originally read it in high school and loved it. On my recommendation, my wife tried picking it up about 5 years ago, only to find she couldn’t slog through it. Now, upon me re-reading it, and giggling to myself at all the jokes, she can’t help but inform me that she’s not sure what I’m laughing at — because the book’s NOT FUNNY.

We’re pretty similar in taste, so I’m unsure why she has that reaction. Maybe it’s frustration, maybe it’s malice, maybe the book is geared toward a male sensibility. Maybe it’s a lack of ability to revel in the futility of the military (or really any organization) and their inept leaders and the mad way in which they perform their duties.

However, Heller makes an interesting choice, by making his protagonist, Yossarian, seemingly just as insane as the cast of characters surrounding him. Yes, he’s an engaging madman, but he’s a willing participant in the insanity all the same.

I can see how an unsuspecting reader could be turned off by being dropped in this crazy world in medias res, Heller expecting us to follow along with half-told tales of angry, shoe-wielding whores, and the censoring of soldier mail by Washington Irving or Irving Washington. Incidentally, even as I enjoy it, the “apple cheeks” discussion between Yossarian and his bunkmate Orr still nearly drove me up the wall.

Like Matthew at Defective Yeti, I’m aware of the entire lack of plot. The characters are fun and engaging, but there needs to be a bit more meat.

Oh well, on to more chapters…


Posted on November 3, 2007, in Books, Web and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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