Friday, June 29, 2012


1961 publication although copyright 1955, 1970 Dell edition to tie in with the "superb Mike Nichols film"
Joseph Heller
Original price 95 cents, purchase price 90 cents, such a bargain
Falling apart paperback

The Author uses so much profanity that even his name has a swear word.  He celebrates women so much, or their bodies anyway, that it's too bad he's a misogynist who presents every woman as a crazy whore, especially the insane prostitutes.  Of course, most of the men are insane, too, but they have other sides to them than their sexuality.  Maybe The Author is a misanthrope, especially since he feels sorry for humanity.

Yossarian is so abnormal that he's an Everyman.  He's the only sane man in a world of insanity, but he's also the craziest because he's the most inconsistent.  He "falls in love with" every woman he has sex with, but he never sees them as people, except for "Nately's whore," except when he almost gets seduced by her when she's trying to kill him.

The first third of the novel has a very ironic style, where everything means its opposite, so that you come to expect irony.  The second third gets more realistic/serious as it gets more absurd and unbelievable, like life.  The last third is horrific.  This "progression" is substituted for straight chronology, since the story keeps looping on itself, until it doesn't.  Rebio lost track of who was alive (but going to die), dead (really most sincerely dead), and "dead" (not necessarily dead, in fact possibly, or even definitely, not dead), at different points in the story.  She thought Snowden was dead but he kept showing up and dying again.

Rebio is a middle-aged girl with a boy's name which actually means REBIO (Rereading Every Book I Own).  She first read Catch-22 in high school and enjoyed the punny names (Colonel Korn, Major Major Major Major, etc.) as well as the ironic twists, like Milo's profiteering, Italy's plan for successful defeat, and of course Catch-22 itself.  She didn't mind the misogyny because she was in high school and used to that sort of hostile admiration (directed at other girls, Rebio was happily invisible at the time).  She tried to watch the 1970 movie on cable years later (but years ago from now), since it had an amazing cast (Alan Arkin, Richard Benjamin, Bob Newhart, etc.), but all she remembers looking back is the first five or ten minutes of no dialogue, which seemed odd for a book she read (maybe three times at that point) for its wit.

Rebio started out reading this book this time thinking she would give it a high score, but after the first third it became a chore to read, except for when it got good again.  She didn't even read it in chronological order for her project, because she thought it was 1955, but she has to give it to the 1960s because the timing of the publication, just in time to feel prescient to anti-war youth a few years later, matters more than when the book was completed, even though Wikipedia says that it's a more 1950s book (with references to loyalty oaths and IBM computers) than its 1940s setting.

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