CATCH 22 JOSEPH HELLER. A BOOK REVIEW BY NEERAJ SHARMA. THE BOOK. A BOOK- A CLASSIC. One of the most influential book in modern literature . Huge impact on popular culture and literary circles. A BOOK- A CLASSIC. It introduced the post war world to the concept of ‘Black Humor’
A BOOK REVIEW BY NEERAJ SHARMA
World War 2. Americans in Italy wait every day for the next mission. Some people are just crazy about it, others detest the entire business. And for those who detest it there are only two ways of getting rid of it: a) you could get killed, or b) you could get grounded. So, the system works in a way that makes the in-charge-of-grounding-people people ground every man who's physically damaged or mentally crazy. Therefore, in order to be grounded, all you have to do is to be, or pretend to be, crazy. There is only one catch. Catch-22.
Heller does an excellent job of creating a dismal, war torn environment. One of the features of expressionist writing is its concentration on the emotional. And Heller brings out the very emotional side of war. He has certain scenes (such as the one with the Snowdon, a new recruit who dies in Yossarian’s arms in the back of a plane) that continuously repeat throughout the novel. Each time it repeats, a little more detail is added. Each time a little more detail is added, the reader reacts differently. It is beautifully done. By playing with the reader's emotions and making the reader constantly reconsider their previous reactions, Heller paints a confusing tapestry for his setting and plot.
In England, Catch-22 hit the best-seller list the first week after being published in 1962. Sales rose in the United States in response. By the mid-1960s, Newsweek magazine was reporting "The Heller Cult," and college students were wearing Army field jackets with Yossarian name tags. Students related the novel not so much to World War II or the Korean Conflict as to the Vietnam War then beginning to escalate.
Seeing the war as profitable only to the industrial and military "Establishment," they opposed American involvement in Vietnam and adopted bumper stickers reading "Better Yossarian than Rotarian” (a club for "Establishment" businessmen).
"All over the world, boys on every side of the bomb line were laying down their lives for what they had been told was their country, and no one seemed to mind, least of all the boys who were laying down their young lives. There was no end in sight.“
This is the essence of the whole book, despite it’s humor and wisecracks it remains a book that questions the concepts of martyrdom and patriotism. The book is brutal and unrelenting in nature and would not be forgotten by those who can take it.