American Lit · Misc. Historical Fiction.

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

“I think I’d like to live like a vegetable and make no important decisions,” 

Some friends of mine recommended this book to me and I thought it would be worth a read.

While I didn’t adore this book, I didn’t hate it either. There were some funny moments which were comic in a darkly funny way but the female representation was problematic (a product of the times, I suppose) and there’s only so many times the female form can be described in vagina-clenching detail before it gets really tedious.

I found the character of Major Major very funny, but for the other characters I felt as if we weren’t supposed to form literary kinship with them because they zip in and out of the story very fast. However, perhaps the book is a product of its time where the anti-war sentiment was heavy in the air and the frustrations of army beaurocracy form one of the main struts of the story itself. Heller was also a bombardier during the war, and must’ve drawn from his experiences of that.

I think I will certainly have to return to this book at some point in the future. I don’t loathe it but the book’s plot and narrative is a bit messy and disorganised, but I don’t loathe this book enough to give it a flat 1* rating. In reading this book I tried to go into it with as clear a mind as possible so as not to form any rock hard preconceptions about the story or the characters themselves.

While this book may not be to everyone’s taste, it is still quite funny at times and the cuts between darkly funny and utterly tragic are often unexpected. However, I felt that the soldiers were little more than caricatures and didn’t feel connected to any of them or their ultimate fates. Perhaps if I had read this book contextually then I would have been able to understand it more.

MY RATING: ***.5 / *****

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