Book Review #1: Catch-22 -Joseph Heller

4 04 2008

[Note:So I got this urge all of a sudden to write book reviews! So in this new section, ill give a brief talk on a book and the rest is self explanatory. Will do this now and again… I am not necessarily a reader into general fiction but from time to time whenever UNI isn’t killing me with assignments/reports/essays/ this fills up a bit of the weekday time nicely. As a side note, I am always open to new things, so if there is any book that you would like to recommend me (based on the types of books you see here) please feel free to make some suggestions. If it’s in my local library, I will give it a read! Thanks for viewing 🙂]

That’s some catch, that catch-22,” [Yossarian] observed.

It’s the best there is,” Doc Daneeka agreed.

Get in a comfy position! You will be sitting/lying/standing for a very long time once you begin reading this gem! Published in 1961, Joseph Hellerbegins his writing career with Catch-22; a masterpiece, surpassing all his subsequent books. Set in a random island in the Mediterranean sea of the coast of Italy, we witness the lives of an American bomber squadron near the end of World War II. With the novel being set in a random and incomplete order, you generally follow the stories and adventures of Yossarian, a bombardier that wants nothing to do with the war! Wanting to get out of it, he completes the requirements (# of bombing missions)  but every time he gets near the goal, the number of missions required before he can leave the war increases! Bureaucratic elements are filled in the book, making anyone who has dealt with annoying administration/service nod and cringe at the occasions. Furthermore, the logic that is ‘catch-22’ is coined from this very novel and that element is frustratingly implanted in many situations throughout the novel. 

At roughly 520 pages, it is quite a read. Furthermore the order of the book and the general style of Heller’s writing makes this a difficult and at many times a hard book to understand. None-the-less the dark humour is evident throughout, the characters are live, vivid and easy to relate to. Who can forget Yossarian,’Major Major Major Major’, Doc Daneeka , Clevinger, Nately and his whore, Milo Minderbinder and his mess hall, Orr, Scheisskopf (It’s something funny in German ;)) among many many more!

Finally, the ending could not have ended in a better way! While the novel keeps getting darker and darker as it progresses from it’s initial humour, we are left satisfied (somewhat) in the end.

 Usually I borrow books from the library, but I liked this one so much that I had to own a copy. If you got plenty of free time in your hands and your into dark humour, give this a go. You do not need to necessarily be a war buff, but I am sure many who are got a crack at Colonel Cathcart’s insane antics and bombing pattern demands and so on. Rated as one of the 100 best novels of the 20th century, this is surely one you have to check out!

One final comment: This book tends to be one of those ‘love it or hate it with nothing in between’ so don’t be surprised if you hate the book after the review I gave it :).


Overall: 9.5/10

(I will give it 10/10 when I read the other 99 books in that top 100 list just to make sure this rating is not based on the fact that I have not read as many books as the average individual (well the average individual that reads I suppose))