I’ve never been up to the challenge of reviewing Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 here on the blog, and I’m still not. There’s just too much there. I bet I’ve read it 20 times and I’m still not sure why I think it’s funny/sad/important/moving/what-have-you. It’s the same way with A Confederacy of Dunces and The Good Soldier Svejk.
One day, perhaps.
It’s a slippery book and time makes it more so. Paragraphs that were once funny are now the sad ones. Or paragraphs that seemed important now seem senseless. There are entire underlined pages in my various copies and I never know for sure why I underlined them.
That’s part of the fun, of course, and few books shift around on me like Catch 22.
I have recommended it to people that I know will love it, only to find that they hated it or, worse, found it boring.
“I don’t get it,” said my wife.
“I don’t get YOU!” I might have shouted, had I been the 18-year-old critic Josh and not this paragon of…oh, I’ve got nothing for that.
- So the best I can do for you is offer you a selection of quotes from the “hero,” Yossarian. Yossarian is a guy who wants out of World War II. And that’s about all the description I’m able to give you:“You’re right, you’re right, you’re right. The hot dog, the Brooklyn Dodgers. Mom’s apple pie. That’s what everyone’s fighting for. But who’s fighting for the decent folk? Who’s fighting for more votes for the decent folk? There’s no patriotism, that’s what it is. And no matriotism, eithe
- Appleby was as good at shooting crap as he was at playing Ping-Pong, and he was as good at playing Ping-Pong as he was at everything else. Everything Appleby did, he did well. Appleby was a fair-haired boy from Iowa who believed in God, Motherhood, and the American Way of Life, without ever thinking about any of them, and everybody who knew him liked him.
“I hate that son of a bitch,” Yossarian growled.
- “Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear?”
- “The enemy,” retorted Yossarian with weighted precision, “is anybody who’s going to get you killed, no matter which side he’s on, and that includes Colonel Cathcart. And don’t you forget that, because the longer you remember it, the longer you might live.”
- The God I don’t believe in is a good God, a just God, a merciful God. He’s not the mean and stupid God you make him out to be.”
- From now on I’m thinking only of me.
Major Danby replied indulgently with a superior smile. But “Yossarian, suppose everyone felt that way?”
Then…I’d certainly be a damned fool to feel any other way, wouldn’t I?
And now, as is usually the case when I see talk about the book or see its cover, I have to go read it again and see what it’s like.
If the name Milo Minderbinder means anything to you, I came very, very close to naming my son Milo.